VIDEO - "Can you say that the Treasury Department did not remove, distort, or destroy any Suspicious Activity Reports related to Michael Cohen?" - Sen. Chris Coons
During budget hearings, Sen. Chris Coons today pressed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on recent reports that important financial information about Michael Cohen could not be located by law enforcement.
Coons: Let me ask you a last question if I might. I was deeply concerned by recent reports that important financial information about Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, could not be located by law enforcement. A whistleblower from U.S. law enforcement said two Suspicious Activity Reports on money paid to Mr. Cohen’s account were missing. Can you say that the Treasury Department did not remove, distort, or destroy any Suspicious Activity Reports related to Michael Cohen?
Mnuchin: Mr. Senator, first of all, I very much appreciate you asking me this question because I think there has been misinformation on the press about this.
So, as we’ve recently said, let me first comment that I personally have not been involved in any of the procedures or anything associated with this. But I will also comment we do have procedures where at the request of law enforcement agencies, we do have the ability to suppress important information and for different law enforcement reasons as you can appreciate, this is often done.
Now, let me also just be clear, I am not making any comments whether this was or was not done as it relates to these specific SARs, but I want to comment that FinCEN does have a long-standing policy of accommodating the enforcement agencies on that.
And I would also comment that our inspector general is reviewing the issue of leaks, at least there is the appearance that some information may have gone out, I’ve seen articles that actually reference employees who claim they released information because they thought things that were suppressed. There is no excuse whatsoever for anybody who has access to these important systems to release information on an unauthorized basis and I can assure you our inspector general is reviewing these issues very carefully.
Coons: Well if might Mr. Secretary, I appreciate that your IG has been directed to investigate leaks. Is the IG also investigating whether or not there has been any inappropriate interference with the SARs that are alleged to be inaccessible or missing?
Mnuchin: Again, they are reviewing everything associated with the information of the SARs, both the technology issues, the issues around logging, so again, I can assure you that they are doing a thorough review because this system of SARs is absolutely critical to our entire FinCEN effort and we need to make sure it is in no way at risk.
Coons: I’m glad you’re committed to the integrity of the financial crimes enforcement network and to hear that the inspector general is looking at this broadly and I would look forward to any follow-up for you on this. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.