Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a Senior adviser at the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), has been charged with one count of unauthorized disclosure of suspicious activity reports, known as SARs, and one count of conspiracy to make unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports (SARs)–for allegedly sending the files to an unidentified reporter beginning in October of 2017, according to authorities. –BLP

In an interview with FBI agents, Edwards defined her motives as “record keeping,” and claimed that she is a “whistleblower,” according to the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors.

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The report reads, “During the interview described herein, EDWARDS told the Interviewing Agents, in sum and substance, that she is a ‘whistleblower’ who provided the SARs to Reporter-1 for ‘record keeping.’ Based on my participation in this investigation and my conversations with other law enforcement agents, I am aware that, prior to the SARs Disclosures, EDWARDS had previously filed a whistleblower complaint unrelated to the SARs Disclosures, and that EDWARDS had also reached out to congressional staffers regarding, among other things, her unrelated whistleblower complaint.”

According to court documents, Edwards was arrested on Tuesday with a flash drive on hand containing SARs, as well as the phone she used to contact the unidentified BuzzFeed reporter. Edwards reportedly exchanged over 300 messages with the unidentified reporter. While court documents do not name the reporter, he has been identified by the New York Times and other media outlets as Jason Leopold, an investigative reporter at BuzzFeed News. Leopold and BuzzFeed have declined to comment about Edwards’ arrest. –Heavy

The reports, which focused on Manafort, the Russian Embassy, Prevezon Alexander real estate company, alleged Russian spy Maria Butina, and Manafort’s former business partner Rick Gates, were later detailed in roughly 12 articles, all published by BuzzFeed, according to court documents.

“Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior-level FinCEN employee, 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,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

“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.”

Yesterday, investigative reporter for USA Today, Brad Heath, released a series of tweets explaining the counts against Sours. In his first tweet, Heath released a copy of “Count Two” against Sours, claiming “DOJ has filed criminal charges against a Treasury Dep’t official alleging a conspiracy to leak confidential “suspicious activity reports” about Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and others to a BuzzFeed reporter.

In his next tweet, Heath explains how Edwards, a senior advisor at the Financial Center saved the encrypted messages she exchanged with a reporter. Heath then explained that agents claimed they found them after searching her cellphone.

According to Heath, Edwards saved an astounding 24,000 suspicious activity reports on a thumb drive.

Heath explains how Edwards was caught: The government was able to use a pen register to determine, in real time, when Edwards was exchanging messages with a BuzzFeed reporter.

DOJ also determined that the reporter exchanged hundreds of messages with Edwards’ supervisor, an assistant director of FinCen.

DOJ also obtained messages in which a BuzzFeed reporter appeared to help Edwards search for particular confidential records to leak. Heath released a link to the complaint. Click here for the link.

In this tweet, Heath explains how ex-Trump aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and others including Russian diplomats, were in fact the victims of a government leak conspiracy.

The charges also validate a lot of the reporting by and , confirming that it was based on actual bank records and that the matters being pursued by Mueller and others at DOJ. For example: , , etc.

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