WASHINGTON (11/24/10)--The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) on Tuesday released a final rule that FinCEN Director James Freis said would “promote the protection of Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) information while seeking to ensure that the appropriate parties, but only those parties, have access to SARs.” According to a FinCEN release, the new FinCEN SAR confidentiality regulations “clarify the scope of the statutory prohibition against the disclosure by a financial institution or by a government agency of a SAR or any information that would reveal the existence of a SAR.” The new rules “expand the ability of certain financial institutions to share SAR information with most affiliates,” according to FinCEN. Freis said that this expansion “will help the financial industry protect itself from abuses of financial crime, be consistent with industry efforts to strengthen enterprise-wide risk management, and also promote the reporting of even more useful information to FinCEN and law enforcement investigators.” FinCEN has also promoted the importance of SAR confidentiality to financial institutions, their federal and state regulators, members of the law enforcement community, and self-regulatory organizations via an advisory, and has also provided tailored SAR confidentiality rule guidance for both depository institutions and securities/futures institutions. Under the new guidance, these entities will be permitted to share SAR information with domestic affiliates that are also subject to SAR rules, but will not be allowed to share SAR information with foreign affiliates. The Credit Union National Association in the past has urged caution when sharing SAR information. Both the final rule and the guidance will become effective 30 days after they are published in the Federal Register. For the FinCEN release, use the resource link.