Speed Reads


Official who leaked Cohen's financial records did so out of alarm over missing documents

The person who leaked some financial records about Michael Cohen last week told The New Yorker they did so because two other important documents related to Cohen's banking activities were missing from a government database and they were concerned information was being suppressed.

The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow says the leaker is a law enforcement official. Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer, opened an account at First Republic Bank for his shell company Essential Consultants LLC. The leaker released a suspicious-activity report filed by the bank, showing that Cohen received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Novartis, AT&T, and other companies after Trump's election. The leaked report mentions two earlier suspicious-activity reports the bank had filed, detailing more than $3 million in other questionable transactions from unknown business and other entities.

The person who leaked the report told Farrow that these two suspicious-activity reports are not in the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) database. Banks are legally required to file suspicious-activity reports with the government, creating records of possible fraud and money laundering. While not proof of criminal activity, those reports do go into the permanent FinCEN database, and law enforcement officials and other federal government personnel have access to the database.

The leaker told Farrow they had "never seen something pulled off the system" like this, which was concerning. "The system is a safeguard for the bank," they said. "It's a stockpile of information. When something's not there that should be, I immediately became concerned." Farrow spoke with a government official who speculated that access was restricted due to the sensitive nature of the documents, but it would be a nearly unprecedented move. For more on the missing documents and why it's worrisome, visit The New Yorker.