Treasury watchdog probing how Stormy Daniels lawyer got Cohen’s bank records

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The Treasury Department’s inspector general is investigating how Stormy Daniels’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, obtained confidential banking records concerning a company controlled by President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

The inspector general’s counsel, Rich Delmar, told The Hill that the office is looking into allegations that federally mandated reports filed about Cohen’s banking transactions were “improperly disseminated.”

News of the Treasury investigation, which is focused on the release of Suspicious Activity Reports filed by banks that hosted accounts for Cohen, was first reported Wednesday by The Washington Post

Delmar told The Hill that the Treasury probe is based on a New York Times report from Tuesday that revealed that a shell company set up by Cohen received more than $1 million from an American company linked to a Russian oligarch and several corporations with business before the Trump administration.

Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, struck a $130,000 nondisclosure agreement with Daniels, an adult-film star who claims she had an affair with Trump years ago.

Avenatti on Tuesday went public with detailed claims about Cohen’s banking history, including allegations that he received a $500,000 payment from a company controlled by a Russian oligarch in the months following the 2016 presidential election.


The payment was, according to Avenatti, deposited in an account for Essential Consultants LLC that was also used to pay Daniels $130,000 as part of her nondisclosure agreement days before the 2016 presidential election.

Avenatti also revealed that AT&T, the Swiss drug company Novartis, and aircraft manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries — all of which had business considerations with the federal government — paid Cohen. The companies later confirmed the payments, which are under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Avenatti refused to reveal his source for this information and said investigators should reveal the Suspicious Activity Reports filed on Cohen’s account.

Banks are required under federal law to flag unusual transactions of over $10,000. Those reports are meant to point the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network toward potentially illegal activity, such as money laundering or bank fraud. 

Experts told the Post that Avenatti’s information could have come from a report filed by Cohen’s bank.

Cohen’s bank, First Republic, declined the Post’s request for comment.

Updated at 2:27 p.m.

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