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Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti accuses wrong Michael Cohens of fraudulent payments

Stormy Daniels’ brash mouthpiece isn’t revealing how he got access to Michael Cohen financial records—but if the documents were leaked, the penalties could be serious.

Michael Avenatti, attorney press agent for porn star Stormy Daniels, released a seven-page dossier on Tuesday containing a list of allegedly ‘fraudulent’ payments made to President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Wednesday, the Treasury Department’s inspector general launched an investigation into whether Cohen’s private bank records were leaked. Attorneys for Cohen filed court papers hours later, questioning the veracity of Avenatti’s report and how he came to obtain details of the banking transactions.

According to an investigation by The Daily Caller, there significant factual problems with the document: two of the allegedly “fraudulent” payments were made to men named ‘Michael Cohen’ who have no affiliation with Trump or his lawyer.

Avenatti’s report includes a section listing “possible fraudulent and illegal financial transactions” involving Trump’s lawyer. One of the payments is a $4,250 wire transfer from a Malaysian company, Actuarial Partners, to a bank in Toronto.

The other is a $980 transfer from a Kenyan bank to Bank Hapoalim — the largest bank in Israel.

Zainal Kassim, a representative for Actuarial Partners, told The Daily Caller News Foundation Avenatti’s report is a case of mistaken identity. He forwarded an email the falsely accused Michael Cohen sent to Avenatti requesting the lawyer “correct this error forthwith and make it known publicly” there is no connection to Trump’s Michael Cohen.

“You are surely aware of the fact that this is an extremely common name and would request that you take care before involving innocent parries in this sordid affair,” wrote Cohen, who told Avenatti he is an international consultant who was paid by Actuarial Partners for work on a project in Tanzania.

Israel’s Haaretz found another case of mistaken identity in Avenatti’s report.

“Mr. Cohen received one wire transfer in the amount of $980.00 from a Kenyan bank from account holders Netanel Cohen and Stav Hayun to an account in Israel at Bank Hapoalim,” Avenatti wrote.

Haaretz caught up with Netanel Cohen, who acknowledged having a bank account in Kenya and transferring money to a Michael Cohen. But the Michael Cohen in questions is his brother, Netanel told the news outlet. And his brother is not Trump’s lawyer.

“I’ve never heard of Michael Cohen, and I have no connection to this affair,” Netanel told Haaretz.

It is unclear how Avenatti obtained the financial records cited in his report. But various news outlets, including The New York Times, also appear to have viewed the documents. The Treasury Department’s office of the inspector general opened an investigation into whether someone leaked Cohen’s financial documents to Avenatti and the press, it was reported on Wednesday.

It remains a mystery how the financial records of a completely separate Michael Cohen would have ended up in the tranche of documents provided to Avenatti.

According to The Daily Beast, experts say that

the level of detail in Avenatti’s report suggests he obtained Treasury documents that only the agency’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) had access to or which were requested by law enforcement—such as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which has been investigating Cohen for months, reportedly eyeing the Trump stalwart for possible bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign-finance violations.

“I think somebody from the SDNY is leaking,” said Robert Barnes, a Las Vegas-based trial attorney who’s taken Avenatti to task on Twitter. “The degree to which Avenatti had details implicates them badly.”

Barnes pointed out that Avenatti was reportedly spotted dining with former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in late March. He added that Cohen could potentially sue Avenatti for invasion of privacy by illegal disclosure of banking information.

A spokesman for the Office of the Inspector General told ABC News that investigators are probing whether Suspicious Activity Report information “has been improperly disseminated.” The IG investigation arose from a New York Times report that apparently included the same information Avenatti released, according to ABC News.

 

I never felt more satisfied or optimistic than when I rode the river in my youth.

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