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Law Enforcement Official Leaked Cohen's Financial Details Because Reports Were Disappearing
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17 May 2018 03:34 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Seal of the United States Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (Image source: Public domain)


One thing on many people's minds last week was how Michael Avenatti came to know so much about Michael Cohen's business deals. He published pictures and financial records about some huge secret business deals of Cohen's. It's now been learned that it was a law enforcement official who leaked the info. 

It was shocking, but not all that surprising, to find out that Cohen had big money deals with pharmaceutical company Novartis, AT&T, investment company Columbus Nova owned by a Russian oligarch, and Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. The smallest fee he took is the $150,000 from the Korea company, and the largest was from Novartis, $1.2 million.

These fees are said to have been made with promises from the attorney to give the companies an inside track into the Trump administration. AT&T was looking for advice on their merger with Time Warner.

Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker has reported that an anonymous law enforcement official leaked the information, as the official feared there was something even more shady going on.

"That source, a law enforcement official, is speaking publicly for the first time, to The New Yorker," reported Farrow, "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 official claims there were two other "suspicious activity reports" (SARs) regarding Cohen other than the one that gave Avenatti all his information, but he couldn't find them.

"Those two reports detail more than three-million dollars in additional transactions — triple the amount in the report released last week," wrote Farrow. It's unknown who or what corporations were involved, but the official says they went missing from "the database maintained by the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)."

The career law enforcement official told Farrow, "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." 

He added that was the reason he came forward. "Why just those two missing?" he questioned, and allowed what "alarms" him the most is that the two SARs might be permanently withheld.

FinCEN said in a statement that it would not confirm or deny "whether the allegedly missing SARs exists" and that it keeps them confidential "in order to protect both filers and potentially-named individuals."

"We've accepted this as normal, and this is not normal," said the official. "Things that stand out as abnormal, like documents being removed from a system, are of grave concern to me."

The official added, "To say that I am terrified right now would be an understatement," while also stating, "This is a terrifying time to be an American, to be in this situation and to watch all of this unfold."

It all leads up to the realization that as bad as the information is that Avenatti published, the information that was removed from the system must be even worse, certainly leading to the official's fear.

And yet more information is still tumbling out. Avenatti had published a screencap of a video showing Cohen with several men in Trump Tower, including Qatari businessman Ahmed al-Rumaihi, a man who had already been accused of bribing Washington politicians.

And now Reuters is publishing that at a business meeting in December 2016, the same timeframe of that picture, Cohen asked the Qatari government for at least $1 million in exchange for his insight into Trump.

Qatar turned Cohen down, according to several insiders. It was also reported by other media outlets that he asked for money directly from al-Rumaihi as well. This information has not been verified.

Surely, this is something Robert Mueller's investigation will be looking into.

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