Report: Source who leaked Cohen financial info claims key government reports were missing

A law enforcement source said in a new report Wednesday that he leaked financial records about President Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen because two key goverment reports on Cohen’s financial activity were missing. 

One week after Michael Avenatti released financial records indicating Cohen used the same shell company to pay his client Stormy Daniels and receive payments from firms, The New Yorker published a bombshell report by Ronan Farrow detailing why those records were leaked. 

The reports about the payments to Cohen drew largely on a  “suspicious activity report” or SAR, filed by First Republic Bank. The shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, also did business through First Republic Bank.  After the release by Avenatti and new media, AT&T and Novartis soon confirmed they paid Cohen hundreds of thousands of dollars for his insights. 

But the motivation for the leak was unreported until now. According to The New Yorker, the leaked report mentions two suspicious activity reports previously filed by the bank — but which, according to the law enforcement source, were missing from the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN). Exactly what happened to those reports, and when, is unclear, but according to the New Yorker, they detailed more than $3 million in additional transactions — far more than the report leaked last week listed. 

“I have never seen something pulled off the system,” the source told The New Yorker. “… That system is a safeguard for the bank. It’s a stockpile of information. When something’s not there that should be, I immediately became concerned.” 

“That’s why I came forward,” the source told The New Yorker. 

CBS News has reached out to the Treasury Department for comment.

The New Yorker also spoke with seven former government officials and experts familiar with the FINCEN database, who expressed varying levels of alarm. FINCEN’s retention policy on its website says incorrect documents and those “deemed highly sensitive” and “requiring strict limitations on access” might be transferred from its master file. 

Federal law requires banks to file suspicious activity reports to flag anything that could be fraud, money laundering or other financial misconduct.

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