If the police are investigating potentially criminal monetary transactions, they are highly likely to want the suspect to be unaware of their investigations.
Therefore, it is an offence to prejudice an investigation by tipping off the suspect, or anyone else, that a suspicion has been reported (either to the police or an internal referral point), or that an investigation is or will be carried out.
This requirement leads to a potential conflict with the Data Protection Act, which requires customers be given details of information held on them by the company. Where the information held includes details of a suspicious transaction report, complying with Data Protection rules could breach ‘Tipping Off’ rules. In circumstances where there is a danger of this happening, firms should seek guidance from the National Crime Agency.
Again, the penalty for this offence is imprisonment of up to five years, a fine or both.
It is also an offence to reveal to a third person that a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) has been made if revealing the information might prejudice any investigation that might be carried out as a result of the SAR.
It is also an offence to reveal that an investigation into allegations relating to terrorist property offences is being contemplated or carried out, if revealing the information is likely to prejudice that investigation.
However, it is not an offence if the disclosure is within the same firm.
The penalty for tipping off is a maximum of 2 years’ custody.