- A bombshell financial report that showed Michael Cohen took in large sums of money from so-called consulting deals with major corporations after President Donald Trump’s election could be just the tip of the iceberg.
- A new interview published by The New Yorker on Wednesday suggests there are two “missing” suspicious activity reports that document about $US3 million in additional, suspicious bank transfers linked to Cohen that occurred over a roughly 10-month period, ending in September 2017.
- The career law-enforcement official who told The New Yorker about those two allegedly missing reports said it was unusual for them to not appear in a federal database designated for such records. However, there are some circumstances in which the reports could be legitimately withheld.
Two allegedly missing financial reports show roughly $US3 million worth of previously undisclosed financial transactions linked to Michael Cohen, the longtime attorney to President Donald Trump who is currently the subject of a federal criminal investigation over his business dealings.
A career law-enforcement official told The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow in a story published on Wednesday night that they were unable to find the two suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by First Republic Bank that documented those transactions. The person suggested that it could be evidence of a cover-up.
The two SARs in question reportedly show transactions totaling about $US1 million in bank transfers over the span of about seven months, and some $US2 million in activity during a three-month period ending in September 2017.
The source told Farrow they were puzzled that they couldn’t find those two reports in a financial crimes database operated by the US Treasury Department.
“I have never seen something pulled off the system. … That system is a safeguard for the bank,” the law-enforcement source told the publication.
According to Farrow’s reporting, some of that roughly $US3 million could have ended up in Cohen’s personal bank account at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. It noted that Cohen deposited checks from his shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, into two newly opened Morgan Stanley accounts that totaled about $US1 million during that three-month period in 2017.
The bank issued its own SAR that flagged the transactions as possible evidence of “bribery or gratuity.”
It is now known that Cohen solicited major corporations for high-dollar “consulting” services via Essential Consultants LLC after Trump’s 2016 election. He originally created the shell company in October that year to facilitate a hush-payment to a porn star who claimed she had an affair with Trump.
Cohen is at the center of an investigation being conducted by the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. The FBI raided his properties last month.
It is not entirely clear whether the two SAR documents showing that $US3 million in transactions are indeed missing. As Farrow notes, citing experts familiar with the financial crimes database, access to some SARs can be restricted for various reasons.
Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution,also weighed in, saying it is unlikely that the suspicious activity reports are missing, and that even if they were, the bank’s transaction record is not – and that’s something the Southern District of New York or special counsel Robert Mueller could subpoena the bank for, if they haven’t already.
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