Bloomberg reports that Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, senior adviser at Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), has been accused of leaking Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) to an unidentified reporter at Buzzfeed.
Federal prosecutors alleged that the leaks were used for a series of reports published by BuzzFeed News titled The Money Trail, which has revealed details of numerous money transfers flagged as suspicious to Treasury investigators.
According to the government, the material included reports on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and political consultant Richard Gates, as well as Maria Butina, who is accused of trying to infiltrate us political organizations as a covert Russian agent.
"The feds say they found evidence on Edwards" cell phone, showing that she had "engaged in hundreds of electronic communications with Reporter-1, many via an encrypted application".
In her effort to transmit the material to the reporter, Edwards saved the reports and other sensitive information to a FinCEN-provided flash drive, then took photographs of the documents and texted them over, the complaint says.
The SARs and other information allegedly provided by Edwards since October 2017 formed the basis of about a dozen stories, the most recent of which was published on Monday, according to the Manhattan US Attorney's Office.
She made an initial court appearance Wednesday in Virginia and was released on a $100,000 bond.
A spokesman for the news organization declined to comment.
The court documents also indicate the FBI has investigated one of Edwards' 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. Each count could lead to a maximum five-year sentence.
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The disclosures were reported in a series of articles in BuzzFeed related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of possible coordination between U.S. President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russian Federation, according to prosecutors.
The official, Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, illegally disclosed the documents, known as Suspicious Activity Reports, to a reporter for BuzzFeed News, according to the complaint and a person familiar with the matter.
Her lawyer, Peter Greenspun, declined to comment.
In February, BuzzFeed reported that eight banks filed 23 "suspicious activity reports" between 2004 and 2014 for accounts linked to Manafort.
Edwards is now on administrative leave, FinCen spokesman Steve Hudak said.
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. The BuzzFeed story said the transfers were "flagged" by United States financial institutions.
The disclosures began around October 2017, the complaint said, and continued for a year.
When federal agents confronted Ms Edwards this week, she described herself as a whistleblower and said she had provided the reports to the reporter for "record-keeping", the court papers said. She will have a hearing at Wednesday afternoon in front of a judge in the U.S. District of Eastern Virginia.