Senior Treasury employee charged with leaking documents related to Russian Federation probe

Elias Hubbard
October 18, 2018

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior-level FinCEN employee, allegedly 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.

Edwards, 40, a senior adviser in the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as "FinCEN", was arrested and charged by the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of NY with one count of unauthorized disclosure of Suspicious Activity Reports and one count of conspiracy to make such unauthorized disclosures.

Edwards and a "co-conspirator" who is not named in the complaint "exchanged approximately 301 messages with Report-1".

In October, Edwards concealed her relationship with the reporter to federal agents, according to the indictment, and denied any contacts with news media.

As well as Manafort, the reports allegedly leaked by Edwards included information on Rick Gates, Trump's former deputy campaign chairman, and Maria Butina, the alleged Russian spy. Prosecutors allege she photographed the confidential documents before sending them to the reporter.

According to a FBI agent's affidavit in the complaint, a forensic investigation into the disclosures found that some 24,000 files were saved onto a flash drive the government issued to Edwards.

Suspicious activity reports are submitted by banks to alert law enforcement to potentially illegal transactions.

They 'are not public documents, and it is an independent federal crime to disclose them outside of one's official duties, ' U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said.

Edwards is facing two counts, one for leaking reports and one for conspiracy to leak the reports. Each charge can be punished with five years of prison maximum. But investigators wrote that the publication is headquartered in NY.

New York-based BuzzFeed has reported extensively on SAR documents connected to Butina, Manafort and others. The BuzzFeed story said the transfers were "flagged" by USA financial institutions.

Edwards received a Master of Education degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, with a conentration on Curriculum and Instruction, in 2002.

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.

Charging documents revealed that an associate director of FinCEN/boss of Edwards exchanged hundreds of texts (325) with the unnamed BuzzFeed reporter.

Authorities said that Edwards's cellphone activity was monitored after investigators obtained permission from a judge.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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