Natalie May Edwards, a senior adviser in the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), was arrested on Tuesday and charged with unauthorized disclosure of suspicious activity reports and with conspiracy, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.
Edwards is accused of disclosing "suspicious activity reports" (SARs) related to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Manafort associate Rick Gates to a BuzzFeed reporter, starting in October 2017. She's accused of leaking the material to a journalist.
A BuzzFeed representative did not immediately return a call for comment, nor did a FinCEN spokesman.
Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY, said Edwards "betrayed her position of trust by repeatedly disclosing highly sensitive information".
Ms Edwards, 40, was expected to make an initial appearance in Virginia federal court later in the day.
Court papers also list another FinCEN employee as a co-conspirator, noting that the person exchanged more than 300 messages with the reporter via an encrypted messaging application.
Peter Greenspan, Edwards' attorney, declined to comment on the charges.
The investigation into the leaked reports came after federal agents identified a pattern of financial information from people or entities under investigation by various federal prosecutors' offices, including that of special counsel Robert Mueller, appearing in news reports.
Each charge could bring her a five-year prison term if she's found guilty.
Edwards is now on administrative leave, FinCen spokesman Steve Hudak said.
The type of reports Edwards is accused of leaking are filed confidentially by banks and other financial institutions to flag for law-enforcement entities what they believe are possibly illegal transactions.
It describes one exchange over encrypted messaging in which the reporter discussed with Edwards how to search records related to Prevezon, a firm with links to some of the Russian participants in the 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
Edwards was arrested Tuesday carrying a flash drive containing the SARs and a phone she used to send the information to the reporter. Investigators said she had previously filed an unrelated whistleblower complaint and discussed this with congressional officials.
Beginning in approximately October 2017, and lasting until the present, EDWARDS unlawfully disclosed numerous SARs to a reporter ("Reporter-1"), the substance of which were published over the course of approximately 12 articles by a news organization for which Reporter-1 wrote ("News Organization-1").
On Wednesday, the judge in Virginia said Edwards's next court appearance will be in NY, prior to November 2.
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