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Wed May 16, 2018, 05:46 PM

Missing Files Motivated the Leak of Michael Cohen's Financial Records



@RonanFarrow

The whistleblower who leaked Michael Cohen’s financial records is stepping forward to say why: records of bigger, potentially more sensitive, swaths of suspicious transactions appeared to be missing from a government database. My @newyorker investigation:








Missing Files Motivated the Leak of Michael Cohen’s Financial Records
A law-enforcement official released the documents after finding that additional suspicious transactions did not appear in a government database.

By Ronan Farrow6:17 P.M.


Last week, several news outlets obtained financial records showing that Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, had used a shell company to receive payments from various firms with business before the Trump Administration. In the days since, there has been much speculation about who leaked the confidential documents, and the Treasury Department’s inspector general has launched a probe to find the source. That source, a law-enforcement official, is speaking publicly for the first time, to The New Yorker, to explain the motivation: the official had grown alarmed after being unable to find two important reports on Cohen’s financial activity in a government database. The official, worried that the information was being withheld from law enforcement, released the remaining documents.

The payments to Cohen that have emerged in the past week come primarily from a single document, a “suspicious-activity report” filed by First Republic Bank, where Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants, L.L.C., maintained an account. The document detailed sums in the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Cohen by the pharmaceutical company Novartis, the telecommunications giant A.T. & T., and an investment firm with ties to the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

The report also refers to two previous suspicious-activity reports, or sars, that the bank had filed, which documented even larger flows of questionable money into Cohen’s account. Those two reports detail more than three million dollars in additional transactions—triple the amount in the report released last week. Which individuals or corporations were involved remains a mystery. But, according to the official who leaked the report, these sars were absent from the database maintained by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or fincen. The official, who has spent a career in law enforcement, told me, “I have never seen something pulled off the system. . . . 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.” The official added, “That’s why I came forward.”

Seven former government officials and other experts familiar with the Treasury Department’s fincen database expressed varying levels of concern about the missing reports. Some speculated that fincen may have restricted access to the reports due to the sensitivity of their content, which they said would be nearly unprecedented. One called the possibility “explosive.” A record-retention policy on fincen’s Web site notes that false documents or those “deemed highly sensitive” and “requiring strict limitations on access” may be transferred out of its master file. Nevertheless, a former prosecutor who spent years working with the fincen database said that she knew of no mechanism for restricting access to sars. She speculated that fincen may have taken the extraordinary step of restricting access “because of the highly sensitive nature of a potential investigation. It may be that someone reached out to fincen to ask to limit disclosure of certain sars related to an investigation, whether it was the special counsel or the Southern District of New York.” (The special counsel, Robert Mueller, is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. The Southern District is investigating Cohen, and the F.B.I. raided his office and hotel room last month.)

Whatever the explanation for the missing reports, the appearance that some, but not all, had been removed or restricted troubled the official who released the report last week. “Why just those two missing?” the official, who feared that the contents of those two reports might be permanently withheld, said. “That’s what alarms me the most.”



MORE:
https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/missing-files-motivated-the-leak-of-michael-cohens-financial-records

17 replies, 1920 views

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Arrow 17 replies Author Time Post
Reply Missing Files Motivated the Leak of Michael Cohen's Financial Records (Original post)
kpete May 2018 OP
NCjack May 2018 #1
AJT May 2018 #2
NCjack May 2018 #3
GusBob May 2018 #5
B2G May 2018 #12
GusBob May 2018 #4
pnwmom May 2018 #8
GusBob May 2018 #6
octoberlib May 2018 #7
BigmanPigman May 2018 #10
malaise May 2018 #9
B2G May 2018 #11
GusBob May 2018 #13
mnmoderatedem May 2018 #14
2naSalit May 2018 #17
byronius May 2018 #15
Sancho May 2018 #16

Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2018, 05:52 PM

1. Trace the theft of documents back to Stupid-45. I wonder if documents can be restored

from system archives.

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Response to NCjack (Reply #1)

Wed May 16, 2018, 05:55 PM

2. I wonder if the bank still has records of the transactions.

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Response to AJT (Reply #2)

Wed May 16, 2018, 06:03 PM

3. That would be good. Nicer if the archive shows they were once in place

and subsequently removed illegally.

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Response to AJT (Reply #2)

Wed May 16, 2018, 06:07 PM

5. If they know the amounts, they may know the source?

Or can they tell by the balance on the account

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Response to AJT (Reply #2)

Wed May 16, 2018, 07:00 PM

12. Of course they do.

 

Banks have very strict record retention requirements.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2018, 06:05 PM

4. Holy shit! This is beyond huge

That guy who released them is scared shitless.

Who has the missing SARS? Either a cop, or a criminal.

Hope it's a cop. If it's a criminal we have conspiracy, and a cover up

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Response to GusBob (Reply #4)

Wed May 16, 2018, 06:22 PM

8. You're not kidding. n/t

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2018, 06:09 PM

6. I wonder if the dates are significant. DU sleuths

2 million bucks June thru Sept of 2017

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2018, 06:20 PM

7. The whistleblower is a law enforcement officer. Ask people in the Nixon admin. what happens when

you fuck with the FBI. *Deep Throat*

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Response to octoberlib (Reply #7)

Wed May 16, 2018, 06:33 PM

10. Watergate 2018...I'd love to see him

go to jail instead of resigning or just being impeached. And all his and his family's assets seized too (since he loves more money more than anything or anyone...even his spawn).

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2018, 06:26 PM

9. This may be huge n/t

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2018, 06:54 PM

11. So he leaked them to Avenatti?

 

Do I have that right?

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2018, 07:34 PM

13. Kick

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2018, 07:40 PM

14. documents like that don't just "disappear"

this was a coordinated effort. A number of folks are in yuge trouble

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Response to mnmoderatedem (Reply #14)

Thu May 17, 2018, 08:09 AM

17. +1

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2018, 08:22 PM

15. Holy #$%*.

Either way, it's a gigantic story.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2018, 08:26 PM

16. On Rachael now..

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