The U.S. Treasury Department is blocking inquiries from Senators attempting to follow the money in the Russia scandal.
According to a BuzzFeed report, there are crucial financial records that the Treasury is refusing to provide to the Senate for the investigation. They’re also refusing to send an expert to answer questions about the money trail. To make matters worse, some of the department’s own employees fear the Treasury is intentionally trying to hold up the Senate.
A series of emails obtained by BuzzFeed chart the barriers thrown up every time the Senate Intelligence Committee attempted to obtain bank records that could detail the path of Russian funding.
This isn’t the first time Treasury has served as a block. Last year, the department refused to help the Senate’s investigation with an expert behind closed doors. There were a series of shell companies, off-shore accounts and difficult to trace cash transactions.
Some staff at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, indicated a fear of whether it was legal to share confidential information about a US citizen. The division indicated that the Senate told them not to hand over personal financial documents of some individuals.
According to sources, these directives all came from senior officials in the General Counsel’s Office of the Treasury Department.
The requested information follows tracked transactions of large amounts often called SARs. Anything that could be suspected of money laundering or any financial misconduct is handed over from banks to Treasury. That’s where the Senate investigators have focused their attention.
The financial documents “play a part of a very important roadmap just like every other piece of evidence,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) told BuzzFeed. “They tell us whether you turn right or you turn left.”
The committee has renewed its requests in recent weeks and the FinCEN has been slow to respond.