We now have our first look at the senior advisor at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) who has been arrested and charged for the unauthorized leak of confidential bank records to a BuzzFeed reporter.
Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, 40, is pictured above in her mugshot down at the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office.
According to the Washington Post, Edwards has already been released on $100,000 bond and will be expected to appear for a Nov. 2 court date in the Southern District of New York. Edwards has been barred from speaking to reporters or FinCEN officials, and it’s not hard to see why given the charges against her.
Edwards is accused of disclosing “suspicious activity reports” (SARs) related to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Manafort associate Rick Gates to a BuzzFeed reporter, starting in Oct. 2017. The laws on SARs and what employees may and may not do with them is abundantly clear.
The feds said that Edwards saved a whopping 24,000 SARs on a department-issued thumb drive. The majority of these files were saved to a folder named “Debacle – Operation-CF,” which contained subfolders named “asshat,” “debacle,” and “emails.”
Charging documents revealed that an associate director of FinCEN/boss of Edwards exchanged hundreds of texts (325) with the unnamed BuzzFeed reporter.
SARs related to the Russian Embassy, accused Russian spy Maria Butina, the company Prevezon Alexander, and “highly sensitive material” regarding Russia, Iran, and ISIS were also found on the flash drive.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman reacted to Edwards arrest in a statement.
“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,” Berman began. “SARs, which are filed confidentially by banks and other financial institutions to alert law enforcement to potentially illegal transactions, are not public documents, and it is an independent federal crime to disclose them outside of one’s official duties.”
“We hope today’s charges remind those in positions of trust within government agencies that the unlawful sharing of sensitive documents will not be tolerated and will be met with swift justice by this Office,” he added.
Authorities say Edwards has been charged with one count of unauthorized disclosures of SARs and one count of conspiracy to make unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports. Each charge can be punished with five years of prison maximum. Edwards allegedly confessed to giving the unidentified BuzzFeed reporter the SARs, but claimed she thought the reporter wouldn’t publish them.
[Image via Alexandria Sheriff’s Office]