The man who leaked Michael Cohen's financial info did so because other information on Trump’s lawyer mysteriously disappeared

  • A whistleblower who leaked financial documents related to Michael Cohen did so because files about Cohen were missing from a government database.
  • That revelation came via a New Yorker interview published on Wednesday, in which the whistleblower, a career law-enforcement official, claimed two missing Suspicious-Activity Reports (SAR) indicate Cohen pulled down millions more dollars through his shell company than originally reported last week.
  • That shell company is Essential Consultants, LLC, which Cohen set up in October 2016 to issue a $130,000 payment as part of a nondisclosure agreement with an adult-film star who claimed she had an affair with Donald Trump.
  • After Trump's election, Cohen solicited corporations for "consulting" gigs and funneled large sums of money from those firms through Essential Consultants, LLC.

A whistleblower who leaked financial information about Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen's finances to the media did so because files about Cohen were missing from a government database, sparking concerns about a potential cover-up, according to a new report from The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow.

Farrow spoke to the law-enforcement official who leaked the documents, and who has not been publicly identified.

The documents in question are Suspicious-Activity Reports (SARs) filed by a bank used by Cohen, First Republic Bank. There are believed to be three of these reports written — but the official was only able to find one of them in FINCEN, a database operated by the Treasury Department, the report said.

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U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen drives after leaving his hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for National Security Advisor, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry talk with each other in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 12, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan to speak with reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, White House national security adviser-designate, from left, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, speak in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had the 'highest confidence' in the intelligence community, in sharp contrast to President-elect Donald Trump's attack on the CIA after reports it found that the Russian government tried to help him win the presidency.

(Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, looks on as his attorney (not pictured) delivers a statement to reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured leaving a restaurant in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured arriving at his hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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This absence was unusual, the official reportedly said: "I have never seen something pulled off the system. ... 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."

In response, The New Yorker's source took the decision to leak the one available SAR to the media. It has sparked a string of damaging headlines about Cohen and how Trump's lawyer and so-called fixer sought payments from companies following Trump's 2016 election, apparently for consulting work — including AT&T and pharma giant Novartis.

The two SARs that the whistleblower couldn't find detail larger quantities of money being paid to Cohen, according to the report: One for "a little over a million dollars" and another for "suspect transfers totaling more than two million dollars."

The official is reportedly worried that the documents are "being withheld from law enforcement," though another possibility is that they may have been restricted due to their contents, potentially at the request of special counsel Robert Mueller — though sources told The New Yorker such a move would be highly unusual.

Either way, the reported existence of two additional SARs suggests there may be further revelations to come about Michael Cohen's financial activities.

Washington Post columnist and former US Treasury Department official, Daniel Drezner reacted to the revelations on Wednesday evening: "As someone who worked at Treasury on anti-money laundering activities, my reaction to this Ronan Farrow story is holy s--t," Drezner wrote.

Funneling money through Essential Consultants LLC

Cohen set up the shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, in October 2016 to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to the adult-film star, Stormy Daniels, who claimed she had an affair with Trump a decade prior.

Shortly after Trump won the presidential election in November that year, Cohen solicited large sums of money from corporations, with various promises of access and insight on Trump.

The telecom giant AT&T and the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis are among the companies that contracted Cohen's services, for which AT&T paid Cohen $600,000 and Novartis paid him $1.2 million.

Other companies Cohen reached out to declined his offers.

News of Cohen's solicitations put an unflattering light on his post-election activities and raised some ethics questions about the use of his existing relationship with Trump for personal financial gain.

Cohen is currently the subject of a criminal investigation via the US Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York. The FBI raided his properties last month..

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