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Former Treasury official sentenced to 6 months in prison for leaking bank documents linked to Mueller investigation

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, center, leaves court after being sentenced to six months in prison for leaking confidential financial reports to a Buzzfeed reporter on Thursday, June 3, 2021, in New York City. AP Photo / Larry Neumeister

  • Former Treasury Department official Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards was sentenced to six months in prison on Thursday.

  • Her conviction comes more than a year after she pleaded guilty and admitted leaking confidential documents to Buzzfeed News.

  • The bank files were linked to personalities linked to Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation, including Paul Manafort.

  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

A former Treasury Department official was sentenced to six months in prison on Thursday for disclosing tens of thousands of pages of confidential financial documents to Buzzfeed News, the outlet reported.

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, 42, pleaded guilty last year, admitting to disclosing reports of suspicious activity related to Special Advocate Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the US election.

The leaked documents included reports on the former campaign chairman of former President Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, his associate Rick Gates, the Russian Embassy and Maria Butina.

Edwards also disclosed documents that were part of the FinCEN files, which were covered by a consortium of more than 100 international news organizations. The project exposed potential corruption in the global banking system and led several countries to reform their financial laws.

Suspicious Activity Reports, or SARs, are highly confidential documents that banks submit to the Treasury Department when they notice potentially suspicious financial activity.

As a senior official in the department, Edwards gained access to these documents and ultimately sent over 50,000 pages to BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold. The indictment, which federal prosecutors in Manhattan first filed in 2018, did not mention Leopold’s name but cited articles he had written about the Mueller investigation and the FinCEN cases.

Edwards pleaded guilty in 2020, although his conviction has been repeatedly postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. At Edwards’ sentencing hearing on Thursday, his defense attorney, Stephanie Carvlin, said Edwards leaked the files as a whistleblower because the Treasury Department was not handling them properly, according to Politico.

In a statement Thursday, BuzzFeed News spokesman Matt Mittenthal sentenced the six-month sentence handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Woods.

“Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards is a courageous whistleblower,” Mittenthal told Politico. “She fought to warn the public of serious risks to the national security of the United States, first through the formal whistleblower process, then through the press. She did so, despite enormous personal risk. because she thought she owed it to the country she loves. “

On Twitter, Leopold said the leaks were playing a valuable public service.

“Natalie Edwards made these revelations despite enormous personal risk, as she believed she owed it to the country she loves,” Leopold wrote. “His revelations helped inspire major financial reform and legal action in the United States, the EU and countries around the world. “

The conviction comes at a time when the Justice Department is under surveillance for secretly seizing the files of journalists from the New York Times, CNN and the Washington Post during Donald Trump’s administration to investigate the leaks. It is not clear whether, as part of its investigation, the ministry obtained telephone records from Leopold.

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