Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, whose disclosures about Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) at the U.S. Department of the Treasury made up much of the FinCEN Files, a project that illuminated global corruption around the world, was sentenced to six months in prison on June 3, 2021. Edwards was released from prison on January 24, 2022, according to reporting from BuzzFeed News. This as “about a month earlier than expected” – Edwards “will be on probation for three years,” the article states.
Edwards began working for the Treasury Department in 2014 as a Senior Advisor in the Intelligence Division “and had oversight in the financial crimes area, known as FinCEN,” according to one of several Whistleblower of the Week profiles on WNN. While on the job, she discovered documents about the Treasury “concealing information from Congress on certain individuals and entities that appeared to Edwards to be politically motivated,” previous WNN reporting states. Edwards approached the Treasury Department’s Inspector General about the illegal activity, but he dismissed her concerns.
In 2016, she “asked Congress to investigate her whistleblower information and protect her as a whistleblower,” but soon after began to experience retaliation from the Treasury Department, a WNN article reports. She continued to contact the Treasury Inspector General, then-Attorney General, and Congress in attempts to raise her concerns about the SARs.
Edwards got in contact with BuzzFeed News senior investigative reporter Jason Leopold in 2017. According to BuzzFeed News’ January 24 article, prosecutors “said that Edwards was ‘blinded by her own apparent sense of self-righteousness’ and called the disclosure ‘unparalleled in FinCEN’s history.’”
“On October 16, 2018, Edwards was arrested by the FBI and charged with two criminal counts. One count was for unauthorized disclosure of SARs. A second count was Conspiracy to Make Unauthorized Disclosures of SARs,” the WNN article states. “Edwards had previously sent the FBI packets of information concerning her whistleblowing, hoping they would do something about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Instead, the FBI advised that her whistleblowing was irrelevant and used her packets as the predicate for her arrest warrant.”
The Treasury Department then “indefinitely suspended Edwards, stripped her of her clearance, and took away her pay and benefits.” She entered the Federal Prison Camp Alderson at 10:00am on September 3, according to Edwards’ husband Dave. He reported that Edwards felt as though she had “been given a death sentence if she catches Covid or any other serious illness.” Dave also reported on September 15 that while in prison, Edwards “has not received a needed liver check, or blood work for her incurable health conditions,” nor was she allowed to have her service dog with her in the prison.
In a November 21 update on Edwards’ situation, Dave reported that she was “doing well as one can when incarcerated,” and occupying her time with “teaching English to inmates for whom it is a second language and is also helping other inmates pursue their GED. Edwards, who has a Ph. D., has found tutoring to be a blessing during her time at Alderson.”
“This chapter is officially closed,” Edwards said in the BuzzFeed News article “shortly after she left prison.” She said, “I will not be silenced anymore. My story will be told.”
Read parts I, II, III, and IV of Edwards’ story on WNN.
Read the Whistleblower of the Week profile on Jason Leopold here.
Read the BuzzFeed News article about her release from prison here.