When it was revealed earlier this month that Trump fixer Michael Cohen had accepted six-figure payments (and more) from various corporations in the wake of the 2017 election, attention turned to the mysterious source of that information.
Stormy Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, was the first to publish detailed allegations, in an unsourced document, that Cohen had used the same shell company from which Daniels received a hush money payment in 2016 to accept the corporate cash.
On Wednesday, the New Yorker revealed that Cohen’s leaked banking data came from a so-called “suspicious activity report,” which are used in the financial industry to flag suspicious activity to Treasury Department regulators. A TPM reader surmised as much earlier this month.
The unnamed law enforcement official who came forward to the New Yorker also said that the report he leaked referenced two other SARs, both of which are missing. The two missing SARs “documented even larger flows of questionable money into Cohen’s account,” the New Yorker reported: more than $3 million in total.
The Wall Street Journal first reported in March that First Republic Bank had filed an SAR covering Cohen’s payment to Daniels via Essential Consultants, LLC, a shell company he’d recently set up.
The report detailed by the New Yorker’s source showed payments to Cohen from the American affiliate of a Russian investment firm, AT&T, the drugmaker Novartis and others months later.
It was also filed by First Republic Bank, but it examined transactions, the publication said, from September 2017 to January 2018. The two missing reports reportedly covered earlier periods.
“I have never seen something pulled off the system,” the New Yorker’s source said, referring to the potential removal of the SARs from the Treasury Department’s searchable database. “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.”
The New Yorker reported that several other institutions filed SARs about accounts of Cohen’s, in addition to First Republic. Those were also covered in Avenatti’s document:
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney flagged two accounts of Cohen’s for possible “bribery or gratuity” and “suspicious use of third-party transactors (straw-man).”
And City National Bank flagged payments by Elliott Broidy that appeared to show that the former RNC deputy finance chair paid both his own attorney, Cohen, and Keith Davidson, the attorney representing Shera Bechard, a Playboy model Broidy had impregnated.
“Mr. Broidy is not going to detail his payments for legal services to Mr. Cohen,” a representative told the New Yorker, asserting that the description of the payments was “not correct.”