Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards was charged with one count of unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports and one count of conspiracy to make unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports, the U.S. Attorneys Office in Manhattan announced Wednesday.
The press release doesn't identify the stories or the reporter but the criminal complaint lists the dates of more than 10 Buzzfeed stories and includes the headlines of some of them. BuzzFeed also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Banks must file the suspicious activity reports with the Treasury Department when they spot transactions that raise questions about possible financial misconduct such as money laundering.
As well as Manafort, the reports allegedly leaked by Edwards included information on Rick Gates, Trump's former deputy campaign chairman, and Maria Butina, the alleged Russian spy. She's accused of leaking the material to a journalist who has not been named in court papers.
Peter Greenspan, Edwards' attorney, declined to comment on the charges.
Edwards is now on administrative leave, FinCen spokesman Steve Hudak said.
The disclosures were reported in a series of articles in BuzzFeed related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of possible coordination between U.S. President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russian Federation, according to prosecutors. Butina, a Russian national, was charged with acting as a foreign agent by the Justice Department's national security division. She has pleaded not guilty.
Throughout 2014, the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, conducted further investigation into the transactions flagged in the bank's suspicious activity reports. Both charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. However, she later admitted that "on numerous occasions, she accessed SARs on her computer, photographed them and sent those photographs to Reporter-1 using the Encrypted Application", Eckstut wrote.
When she was arrested, Edwards was in possession of a flash drive containing the confidential reports, prosecutors said. Investigators said she had previously filed an unrelated whistleblower complaint and discussed this with congressional officials.
The disclosures began around October 2017, the complaint said, and continued for a year. The BuzzFeed story said the transfers were "flagged" by United States financial institutions.
In October, Edwards concealed her relationship with the reporter to federal agents, according to the indictment, and denied any contacts with news media.
Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said Edwards had "betrayed her position of trust".
When questioned by law-enforcement officials at the time of her arrest, she confessed that she had provided the reports to the reporter, according to the complaint. The judge barred her from contacting the reporter as part of her release, and limited her travel to eastern Virginia and the Southern District of NY.