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Mnuchin Says Cohen Bank Report Release Appears Unauthorized

Saleha Mohsin
Michael Cohen, personal lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives at Federal Court in New York, U.S., on Monday, April 16, 2018. Cohen says he gave legal advice to three clients in the past year, including the president and Elliott Broidy, former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that banking records of President Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen appear to have been leaked from a database maintained by his department.

“Our inspector general is reviewing the issue of leaks. There is the appearance that some of the information may have gone out,” Mnuchin told the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. “There is no excuse whatsoever for anybody who has access to these important systems to release information on an unauthorized basis.”

The New Yorker reported last week that a law enforcement official provided Suspicious Activity Reports on Cohen’s accounts from Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to several media organizations.

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Details of those transactions were also released by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for the porn actress Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Trump in 2006 and is in litigation with Cohen. The New Yorker said the official was alarmed that some records of Cohen’s transactions didn’t appear in a FinCEN database and he feared they were being withheld from law enforcement agencies.

Avenatti published a dossier saying that a company Cohen controlled had received large payments in 2017 from a private equity firm with ties to Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg and from corporate clients including Novartis AG and AT&T Inc.

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The two companies confirmed the payments to Cohen and said they had employed the lawyer in mistaken efforts to learn more about Trump as he took office. Executives involved with Cohen at both companies departed after the payments were made public.

Mnuchin said that “I personally have not been involved” with the matter. SARs reports, he said, can be suppressed “at the request of law enforcement agencies,” but he didn’t say whether that had been done in Cohen’s case.

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The inspector general’s office confirmed earlier this month that it was investigating “possible improper dissemination of Bank Secrecy Act information,” according to a statement from Rich Delmar, a, IG spokesman.

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