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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Treasury Official BUSTED For LEAKING Financial ReportsOon Trump Campaign Team
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File) Jeff Mordock
A senior U.S. Treasury employee has been arrested and charged with leaking to news outlets about financial suspicious transactions on former Trump campaign figures Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, accused Russian agent Maria Butina and the Russian Embassy, federal authorities said Wednesday.
Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, 40, of Quinton, Virginia, and a senior adviser in the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN, was arrested Tuesday. She faces one count of unlawfully disclosing suspicious activity reports, or SARs, and one count of conspiracy to disclose those reports.
Each count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Ms. Edwards is scheduled to appear before a judge late Wednesday.
Prosecutors with the Southern District of New York say Ms. Edwards leaked “numerous” SARs to a BuzzFeed News reporter starting in October 2017 and continuing through this month.
The unidentified journalist wrote roughly a dozen articles that included details from those reports, according to court documents. BuzzFeed reporters Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier have bylines on stories cited in the criminal complaint against Ms. Edwards.
Ms. Edwards transmitted the reports by taking photographs of them and texting them to the reporter over an encrypted email, according to court documents. She also shared internal FinCEN emails and other non-public reports, prosecutors said.
At the time of her arrest, Ms. Edwards had a flash drive that appeared to have the unlawfully disclosed SARs, a cellphone containing numerous communications over an encrypted application and “other sensitive government information,” prosecutors said.
The arrest comes one day after BuzzFeed published a story about a loan TD Bank provided to a a subsidiary of Russian-owned Prevezon Holdings despite red flags popping up during the process. BuzzFeed cites FinCEN records in the story, which also mentions Mr. Manafort, Ms. Butina and a Russian developer.
BuzzFeed reporters Azeen Ghorayshi, Tanya Kozyreva and Mr. Leopold share the byline.
“Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior level FinCEN employee, betrayed her position of trust by repeatedly disclosing highly sensitive information contained in Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) to an individual not authorized to receive them,” said Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The Treasury’s FinCEN unit manages suspicious activity reports, which are used to alert officials about financial transactions that can be related to a crime such as money laundering. Willful disclosure of a report or its content by a government official outside their work scope is a felony.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told The Washington Times on Monday that animosity toward President Trump is fueling the rising number of leaks from government workers.
“My view when I came here was that there was way too much leaking, but it really seemed to accelerate when President Trump became president,” he told The Times.
Although Ms. Edward’s motives are not known, Mr. Sessions told the Times that Justice Department investigators have uncovered “a political quotient” among the leakers.
Ms. Edwards‘ arrest comes the same week as former FBI agent Terry Albury is set to be sentenced for leaking information about the bureau’s monitoring of minority communities to the Intercept newspaper.
And, also this week, former Senate staffer James Wolfe pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his relationships with reporters. Although Mr. Wolfe was not accused of leaking information to the press, he was snared in the FBI’s probe of the disclosure of confidential information related to Trump campaign figure Carter Page.