Trump administration to turn over federal banking records to Senate investigators

Lawmakers believe records could shed light on any suspicious business dealings.

ByABC News
June 20, 2017, 1:17 PM

— -- Senate investigators will receive a trove of banking records from the Treasury Department that lawmakers believe could help shed light on any business dealings involving campaign aides and other advisers to President Trump, Sen. Ron Wyden told ABC News on Tuesday.

“The stack of press reports gets higher every day regarding financial connections between Trump associates and Russia and Trump’s own business dealings with Russian interests,” said Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the Senate Intelligence committee. “This morning, Treasury briefed me on documents that are being transmitted to the Senate. I believe these documents will be sufficient to start following the money.”

The Treasury provided the trove of documents after a weekslong standoff, during which Wyden placed a hold on Trump’s nomination of New York attorney Sigal Mandelker to head the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. The Senate advanced her nomination on Tuesday shortly after a deal was reached.

“I have stated repeatedly that we have to follow the money if we are going to get to the bottom of how Russia has attacked our democracy,” Wyden said in May. “That means thoroughly review any information that relates to financial connections between Russia and President Trump and his associates, whether direct or laundered through hidden or illicit transactions. The office which Mandelker has been nominated to head is responsible for much of this information.”

A spokesman for FinCen declined to comment, citing a policy “to never confirm or deny or comment on any investigations.”

FinCEN, the Treasury agency responsible for tracking the illegal movement of money, maintains a database of millions of transactions that have been flagged by banks as unusual or problematic, known as suspicious activity reports, or SARs. Law enforcement agencies around the country have access to the information, but so far, congressional investigators have not had access.

“SARs have proven to be useful to criminal investigators in understanding financial relationships, identifying or confirming links between various parties, identifying patterns of illicit conduct and establishing new leads to be explored,” said Daniel Glaser, who served as treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence in the Obama administration.

The agency also tracks suspicious, all-cash real estate transactions in certain cities, including Miami and Palm Beach. Developers have built more than half a dozen Trump-branded luxury condominium towers in South Florida that have proved popular with Russian and Eastern European buyers.

FinCEN records could shed light on those doing business with Trump or his associates. The agency requires title insurers to report on individuals that ultimately own opaque shell companies or partnerships that are frequently used to make all-cash purchases of luxury residential real estate.

ABC News’ Pete Madden contributed to this report.

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