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AML KYC Tutorial | Suspicious Transactions

As per PMLA Rule 2 (g) suspicious transaction means

  • a transaction whether or not made in cash which to a person acting in good faith gives rise to reasonable ground of suspicion that it may involve the proceeds of crime or
  • appears to be  made  in  circumstances of  unusual or  unjustified complexity or
  • appears to have no economic rationale or bonafide purpose
  • gives rise  to  a reasonable ground of  suspicion that it may  involve financing of the  activities relating to terrorism

In determining whether the transaction is suspicious or not, Banks needs to have regard to the indicators of suspicion. Indicative lists of such indicators are listed below:

Detection and Review









Summary of detection and review




False Identity


Identification documents were found to be forged during customer verification process. The account holder was not  traceable




Wrong  Address


Welcome pack was received back as the person was not staying at the given address or address details given by the account holder were found to be false. The account holder was not traceable




Doubt over  the real beneficiary of  the  account


The customer not aware of transactions in the account. Transactions were inconsistent with customer’s profile.




Account of persons under investigation


The customer was reported in media for being under investigation.




Account of wanted criminal


Name of the account holder and additional criteria (Date of birth / Father’s name / Nationality) were same as a person on the watch list of UN, Interpol etc.




Account used for cyber crime


Complaints of cyber-crime were received against a customer. No valid explanation for the transactions by account holder.




Account used for lottery fraud


Complaints were received against a bank account used for receiving money from the victims. Deposits at multiple locations followed by immediate cash withdrawals using ATMs. No valid explanation provided by the account holder.




Doubtful activity of a customer from high risk country


Cash deposited in a bank account at different cities on the same day. The account holder a citizen of a high risk country with known cases of drug trafficking.




Doubtful investment in IPO


Large number of accounts involving common introducer or authorized signatory. Accounts used for multiple investments in IPOs of various companies.




Unexplained transfers between multiple accounts


Large number of related accounts with substantial inter-account transactions without any economic rationale.




activity in dormant accounts


Sudden spurt in activity of dormant account. The customer could not provide satisfactory explanation for the transactions.




activity in account inconsistent with the declared business


Transactions in account inconsistent with what would be expected from declared business. The customer could not provide satisfactory explanation.




Unexplained large value transactions inconsistent with client’s apparent financial standing


Large value transactions in an account which usually has small value transactions. No valid explanation provided by the account holder.




Doubtful source of payment for credit card purchases


Credit card topped up by substantial cash first and then used for incurring expenses. Cumulative payment during the year was beyond known sources of income.




Suspicious use of
ATM card


Frequent cash deposits in the account followed by ATM withdrawals at different locations. No valid explanation.




Doubtful use of safe deposit locker


Safe  deposit locker operated frequently though the  financial status of client

17Doubtful source
of cash deposited in bank account
Frequent cash transactions of value just under the reporting threshold. Cash transactions split across accounts to avoid reporting. No valid explanation provided.



Suspicious cash withdrawals from bank account


Large value cheques deposited followed by immediate cash withdrawals.




Doubtful source of foreign inward transfers in bank account


Deposit of series of demand drafts purchased from Exchange House abroad. Sudden deposits in dormant account immediately followed by withdrawals.




Doubtful remitter of foreign remittances


Name and other details of the remitter matches with a person on watch list.




Doubtful beneficiary of foreign remittances


Name and other details of the beneficiary matches with a person on watch list.




Doubtful utilizations of foreign remittances


Foreign remittance being withdrawn in cash immediately. No valid explanation.

Bank Guidelines regarding Suspicious Transaction Reports (STR)

  • While determining suspicious transactions, banks should be guided by definition of suspicious transaction contained in PMLA Rules as amended from time to time.
  • It is likely that in some cases transactions are abandoned/ aborted by customers on being asked to give some details or to provide documents.
  • It is clarified that banks should report all such attempted transactions in STRs, even if not completed by customers, irrespective of the amount of the transaction.