The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is still investigating Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) for a stock sell-off he completed around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and wants to speak to Burr’s brother-in-law.
Burr claimed in January that he was told the investigation ended last year.
However, an SEC lawyer in a recent court filing said the commission is probing whether Burr “sold stocks on the basis of material nonpublic information” on Feb. 13, 2020. Burr may have violated federal securities laws, including the STOCK Act, a 2012 law that bars members of Congress from using nonpublic information derived from their positions for their personal benefit.
Burr’s brother-in-law Gerald Fauth and his wife, Mary Fauth, are also under investigation for selling securities on the same day. Authorities believe they may have made the sales based on nonpublic information from the senator.
According to the probe, Burr and his wife communicated regularly over the phone with the Fauths in February 2020 and Burr stayed at the Fauths’ home on more than one occasion that month. Additionally, on the day the stocks were sold, Fauth spoke to the senator over the phone, the SEC revealed.
Burr was one of a number of senators who sold stocks after receiving a closed-door briefing on the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19. The commission says that “it appears” from the probe that Burr “possessed material nonpublic information concerning COVID-19 and its potential impact on the U.S. and global economies, including but not limited to information he had learned through his position on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.”
Burr said last year that he “relied solely on public reporting” to guide his stock selling decisions.
Gerald Fauth serves as chairman of the National Mediation Board, a position for which he was nominated by President Donald Trump.
Burr’s spokesperson, a spokesperson for the board, and a lawyer for the Fauths did not respond to requests for comment.
The Fauths’ lawyer told U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter Jr., a nominee of President Barack Obama, in court Friday that investigators should question Burr before Fauth, media outlets reported. He also blamed health issues for his client not appearing to answer questions.
In a court filing, the lawyer alleged prosecutors confirmed to him in January that the insider trading probe had been closed, around the time Burr said publicly that he was told the same.
The lawyer said he didn’t hear again from the SEC until March 12, when the agency resumed efforts to enforce the subpoena.
Gerald Fauth’s written response to the SEC filing was sealed by a judge late last week. A status report from him is due to the court no later than Nov. 3, the court docket shows.
Burr is retiring in early 2022 after deciding not to run for another term.