On October 17, 2018, a FinCEN senior employee was arrested and charged with leaking and conspiring to leak Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) to a digital media news outlet. The leaked SARs concerned financial transactions of Trump associates and others under scrutiny in the Russian election interference investigation.
As background, financial institutions—including, but not limited to, banks, bank and financial holding companies, brokers and dealers in securities, and residential mortgage lenders and originators—are required to file SARs after detecting in certain instances a known or suspected violation of federal law. For example, financial institutions are required to report suspicious activity, including but not limited to fraudulent attempts to obtain a mortgage or launder money with the proceeds from other crimes to purchase residential real estate.
These institutions and their directors, officers, employees, and agents are prohibited from disclosing the existence of a SAR or any information that would reveal the contents of a SAR. It is also illegal for government employees to disclose a SAR or its contents outside the scope of their work, which is the basis for the charges in the complaint.
The complaint against the FinCEN employee may be found here.