U.S. official charged with Russian Federation probe leak

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards leaks related to Russia probe

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

Prosecutors said at the beginning in October 2017, Edwards disclosed suspicious activity reports connected to Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates, accused Russian agent Maria Butina, the Russian embassy, and a unit of Prevezon Holdings Ltd, a corporation owned by Russian businessman Denis Katsyv.

The stories cited in the criminal complaint filed against Edwards match the headlines, wording and information contained in BuzzFeed News stories, though the court papers did not identify the company by name.

In January 2017, BuzzFeed also published a series of unverified memos alleging that Russian Federation has damaging and salacious information about President Trump, who's called it the "Fake Dirty Dossier".

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 appeared in federal court in Virginia on Wednesday, where a judge released her into the custody of her parents on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond.

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.

Edwards, 40, works as a senior adviser at the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, often referred to as "FinCEN".

Peter Greenspan, Edwards' attorney, declined to comment on the charges.

The disclosures were reported in a series of articles in BuzzFeed related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of possible coordination between US President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russian Federation, according to prosecutors. Each count could lead to a maximum five-year sentence.

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

The type of reports Edwards is accused of leaking are filed confidentially by banks and other financial institutions to flag for law-enforcement entities what they believe are possibly illegal transactions.

Edwards admitted to accessing SARs on her computer, photographing them and sending them via encrypted message to the reporter.

Edwards was found with a flash drive containing the confidential reports when she was arrested Tuesday, the Justice Department said.

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

When questioned by law-enforcement officials at the time of her arrest, she confessed that she had provided the reports to the reporter, according to the complaint.

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