Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

Treasury official charged with leaking Russia-related docs

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards leaks related to Russia probe Treasury Department Employee Arrested For Allegedly Leaking Manafort Bank Records to Reporter
Patty Aguilar | 18 October, 2018, 06:37

Earlier this week, a former senior Senate staffer pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents in a separate leak investigation.

Bloomberg reports that Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, senior adviser at Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), has been accused of leaking Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) to an unidentified reporter at Buzzfeed.

Authorities say Edwards has been charged with one count of unauthorized disclosures of SARs and one count of conspiracy to make unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports. Both charges carry up to five years in prison.

A FinCEN spokesman said Edwards has been placed on administrative leave, and declined to comment about Brailey.

The court documents also indicate the FBI has investigated one of Edwards' bosses, an associate director of FinCEN, noting that person exchanged 325 text messages with the reporter in question during the month when the first story appeared citing SARs reports. The judge prohibited her from having any contact with an unnamed co-conspirator at FinCEN who is referenced in the complaint or with the reporter to whom she is accused of leaking the material.

Geoffrey Berman, the USA attorney in Manhattan, where the criminal complaint was filed, said Edwards "betrayed her position of trust by repeatedly disclosing highly sensitive information".

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Matt Mittenthal, a spokesman for BuzzFeed, had no immediate comment.

Edwards was questioned by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents Tuesday in Virginia as they carried out a court-ordered search warrant to access her cellphone and to search her personally.

Edwards is alleged to have taken photographs of the confidential documents and sent them to a reporter using an encrypted messaging app, according to court documents.

When federal agents confronted Ms Edwards this week, she described herself as a whistleblower and said she had provided the reports to the reporter for "record-keeping", the court papers said.

About 2 million suspicious activity reports were filed in 2017 by banks, money service businesses, casinos and others, according to FinCEN officials. Prosecutors allege she photographed the confidential documents before sending them to the reporter. That list corresponds neatly with BuzzFeed's stories on the subject. She also admitted to meeting the reporter in-person on at least two occasions, according to the complaint, but denied any knowledge that the information she was disclosing would be published.

"At the time of EDWARDS's arrest, she was in possession of a flash drive appearing to be the flash drive on which she saved the unlawfully disclosed SARs, and a cellphone containing numerous communications over an encrypted application in which she transmitted SARs and other sensitive government information to Reporter-1". The judge barred her from contacting the reporter as part of her release, and limited her travel to eastern Virginia and the Southern District of NY.

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