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Financial Intelligence Centre Act, 2001 (Act No. 38 of 2001)


Guidance Note 4 on Suspicious Transaction Reporting

Part 4 - Indicators of Suspicious and Unusual Transactions


4.1 The indicators discussed in this Part apply specifically to those situations where a suspicion may relate to a transaction between a business and its customer. These indicators are offered in order to assist persons involved in business to identify those situations where transactions should raise questions or give rise to the sense of discomfort, apprehension or mistrust which was referred to in the previous Part. These indicators are therefore merely examples of factors that may be helpful when evaluating transactions. The list is not exhaustive and does not intend to cover every possible situation. The indicators suggested here should not to be viewed in isolation and should always be taken into consideration in conjunction with all other circumstances pertaining to a particular transaction.


Unusual business


Deposits of funds with a request for their immediate transfer elsewhere;
Unwarranted and unexplained international transfers;
The payment of commissions or fees that appear excessive in relation to those normally payable;
Lack of concern about high commissions, fees, penalties etc. incurred as a result of a particular type of transaction or particular method of transacting;
Transactions do not appear to be in keeping with normal industry practices;
Purchase of commodities at prices significantly above or below market prices;
Unnecessarily complex transactions;
Unwarranted involvement of structures such as trusts and corporate vehicles in transactions;
A transaction seems to be unusually large or otherwise inconsistent with the customer's financial standing or usual pattern of activities;
Buying or selling securities with no apparent concern for making a profit or avoiding a loss;
Unwarranted desire to involve entities in foreign jurisdictions in transactions.


Knowledge of Reporting or Record Keeping Requirements


A customer attempts to convince employee not to complete any documentation required for the transaction;
A customer makes inquiries that would indicate a desire to avoid reporting;
A customer has unusual knowledge of the law in relation to suspicious transaction reporting;
A customer seems very conversant with money laundering or terrorist activity financing issues;
A customer is quick to volunteer that funds are clean or not being laundered.




The use of a seemingly false identity in connection with any transaction, including the use of aliases and a variety of similar but different addresses and, in particular, the opening or operating of a false name account;
Opening accounts using false or fictitious documents;
A customer provides doubtful or vague identification information;
A customer refuses to produce personal identification documents;
A customer changes a transaction after learning that he must provide a form of identification;
A customer only submits copies of personal identification documents;
A customer wants to establish identity using something other than his or her personal identification documents;
A customer's supporting documentation lacks important details such as contact particulars;
A customer inordinately delays presenting corporate documents; or
All identification presented is foreign or cannot be checked for some reason.




A customer provides insufficient vague or suspicious information concerning a transaction;
Accounts that show unexpectedly large cash deposits and immediate withdrawals;
A frequent exchange of small denomination notes for larger denomination notes;
Involvement of significant amounts of cash in circumstances that are difficult to explain.


Suspicious Transaction Reports - threshold


4.2 It is important to make it clear that there is no monetary threshold which applies to the reporting of suspicious or unusual transactions. Once the conclusion is reached that a situation exits which should give rise to a suspicion that a transaction relates to proceeds of unlawful activities, money laundering or terror financing, as explained above, the transaction must be reported irrespective of the amount involved.


4.3 This must not be confused with a situation where the amount involved in a transaction, or series of transactions, is the basis of a suspicion or forms part of the circumstances which gives rise to a suspicion pertaining to the transaction or series of transactions.


Should the closing of an account be regarded as suspicious?


4.4 The closing of an account with an institution is a transaction which forms part of the business relationship which will be terminated by the account closure. In these circumstances institutions should consider factors such as the history of the account, the circumstances that led to the customer's decision to close the account and the reasons given by the customer for the closure of the account. For example, where a customer's instruction to close an account was preceded by a request by the institution for additional or updated information pertaining to the customer, the decision to rather close the account than to provide the requested information may be regarded as suspicious.