A U.S. Treasury Department employee was arrested Tuesday after unlawfully disclosing Suspicious Activity Reports, or SARs, about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates to a BuzzFeed News reporter.
Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, 40, a senior adviser at the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network known as FinCEN, is accused of sharing multiple SARs concerning Manafort and Gates, the Russian Embassy, and alleged Russian agent Maria Butina. The information was passed to a reporter starting in July 2017 and continuing until the present, according to a complaint filed in a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday.
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The information shared with the reporter appeared in approximately 12 news articles from an unidentified news outlet. Although the reporter and the outlet are not identified in the complaint, the articles referenced by prosecutors had been published by BuzzFeed News. All of the articles mentioned in the complaint were authored by Jason Leopold, along with others including Anthony Cormier.
BuzzFeed declined to provide comment to the Washington Examiner.
According to the complaint, Edwards had access and saved all the relevant SARs on a FinCEN flash drive, along with thousands of files that also included sensitive government information. The SARs were shared with the reporter through an encrypted application to share photographs of the reports, along with internal FinCEN emails concerning SARs protected by the Bank Secrecy Act.
The complaint claims that the articles were published on or around October 2017 and Monday of this week. Edwards had in her possession when she was arrested a flash drive that appeared to be the same one she used to save the SARs she unlawfully shared, and a phone that had multiple conversations where the SARs and other information had been shared with the reporter.
“In her position, Edwards was entrusted with sensitive government information,” FBI assistant director-in-charge William Sweeney Jr. said in a statement Wednesday. “As we allege here today, Edwards violated that trust when she made several unauthorized disclosures to the media. Today's action demonstrates that those who fail to protect the integrity of government information will be rightfully held accountable for their behavior.”
Edwards has been charged with one count of unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports and one count of conspiracy to make unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports. She is due to appear in court in Alexandria later Wednesday.