Treasury Department Employee Arrested For Allegedly Leaking Manafort Bank Records to Reporter

24 2017 a man enters the Treasury Department building in Washington D.C

24 2017 a man enters the Treasury Department building in Washington D.C

The official, Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, illegally disclosed the documents, known as Suspicious Activity Reports, to a reporter for BuzzFeed News, according to the indictment and a person familiar with the matter.

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

Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney in Manhattan, where the criminal complaint was filed, said Edwards "betrayed her position of trust by repeatedly disclosing highly sensitive information". She will have a hearing at Wednesday afternoon in front of a judge in the U.S. District of Eastern Virginia.

The court documents also indicate the FBI has investigated one of Edwards's 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. Prosecutors said beginning in October 2017, Edwards disclosed suspicious activity reports connected to Manafort, Gates, accused Russian agent Maria Butina, the Russian embassy and a unit of Prevezon Holdings Ltd, a corporation owned by Russian businessman Denis Katsyv.

Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates have pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to cooperate in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign coordinated with Russian Federation.

Edwards' lawyer, Peter Greenspun, declined to speak to reporters at the hearing. Both charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Edwards is now on administrative leave, according to FinCEN spokesman Steve Hudak.

The Treasury case centers on a dozen stories published by BuzzFeed News that described suspicious activity reports, or SARs, which are generated by banks when a financial transaction may involve illegal activity. Investigators said she had previously filed an unrelated whistleblower complaint and discussed this with congressional officials. The complaint lists the titles of multiple articles allegedly based on the leaked reports, titles that match published Buzzfeed articles.

She tried to "conceal her relationship" with the reporter on Tuesday and "denied having any contacts with the news media" when Federal Bureau of Investigation agents interviewed her, according to court documents.

She was allegedly in possession of the flash drive on which she stored the SARs, as well as the cellphone she allegedly used to leak them. 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.

In an 18-page criminal complaint, prosecutors said that Edwards, 40, saved suspicious activity reports to a flash drive and sent photographs of them to an unidentified reporter over an encrypted messaging application.

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