Treasury official pleads not guilty to charges of leaking sensitive financial reports to the press
Posted January 30, 2019 5:00 p.m. EST
CNN — A senior Treasury Department official pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court Wednesday to charges that she disclosed sensitive financial transaction reports pertaining to multiple entities tied to President Donald Trump and Russia.
The official, Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, allegedly leaked the documents, known as Suspicious Activity Reports, to a reporter whom CNN has previously identified as working for BuzzFeed News.
Prosecutors indicated that a second official could be in legal jeopardy as well, disclosing in court papers that Edwards had discussed with the reporter another employee at the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as "FinCEN," for whom she used the code name "Enigma."
Edwards told the reporter in a message sent on an encrypted application that "Enigma" had a "wealth of information" and was "willing to verify any information you have and provide additional details as warranted," according to court filings. The filings didn't identify the official.
In response to a question from US District Judge Gregory Woods about the possibility of a superseding indictment or additional charges, Assistant US Attorney Kimberly Ravener left open the potential for an expansion of the case. "Yes, that is possible," she said. "The investigation is ongoing."
Edwards, 40, a senior adviser in FinCEN, was arrested in October. The charges filed against her Wednesday include one count of unauthorized disclosure of Suspicious Activity Reports and one count of conspiracy to make such unauthorized disclosures.
Prosecutors alleged in their October complaint that for about a year beginning in the fall 2017 she leaked reports concerning former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his business associate Rick Gates, the Russian Embassy and Maria Butina, who is accused of being a Russian spy, among others.
The type of report Edwards is accused of leaking is filed confidentially by banks and other financial institutions to flag for law-enforcement entities what they believe are possibly illegal transactions. The unit that employs Edwards maintains a centralized database of such reports, which can be accessed by law enforcement for investigations and other matters.
"Today's not guilty plea is another step in Mrs. Edwards' principled commitment to defend these charges," her attorneys, Marc Agnifilo and Jacob Kaplan, said in a statement. "She is not the first person to be prosecuted for doing the right thing, and she is steadfast in seeing this matter to the end."
A spokesman for BuzzFeed declined to comment.
Edwards has been on administrative leave from the Treasury Department since her October arrest. Her next court appearance is scheduled for April 2.