THE FBI has seized the cellphone of North Carolina senator Richard Burr as part of an investigation into stock trades he made as the coronavirus pandemic broke out in the US.
Burr turned his phone over to federal agents after they served him with a search warrant at his home in Washington DC.
The search warrant on Burr, who is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, would have required approval from the highest ranks of the Justice Department, the LA Times reported.
Agents seized Burr's phone as the Justice Department is examining communications with his broke, according to the paper.
The Republican senator sold off large amounts of stock in February, ahead of the market crash, which was spurred by coronavirus fears.
Burr's brother-in-law also dumped tens of thousands of dollars worth of shares.
The disclosure, which was first published by ProPublica, revealed that Burr sold up to $1.72 million shortly before the market plummeted by 30%.
Burr and other senators on the intelligence committee received daily briefings from public health officials before he sold the stock, which he offloaded in 33 different transactions on February 13.
Burr had also come under fire after audio was leaked to NPR which involved Burr telling a VIP group at an exclusive social club a considerably more dire preview of the economic impact of the coronavirus than what he had told the public.
Burr wrote that the US "today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus" in a Fox News opinion piece on February 7.
But the audio recording revealed Burr warning the group that the virus could stop travel, shutter schools, overwhelm the healthcare system, and result in military mobilization.
Gerald Fauth, who is married to Burr's sister, Mary Fauth, sold between $97,000 and $280,000 worth of shares in six companies on the same day as Burr.
ProPublica notes that several of these businesses were pummeled during the resulting crisis which saw the market sink by 30 percent.
Fauth avoided between $37,000 and $118,000 in losses, according to Luke Brindle-Khym, who is a partner and general counsel of investigative firm QRI in Manhattan.
In 2017, Burr allegedly sold his DC townhouse to a "powerful lobbyist" and donor, who had business before Burr's Senate Intelligence Committee.
In the private transaction, which took place in 2017, the Capitol Hill neighborhood townhouse was sold for $900,000 to a team led by lobbyist Jon Green, according to reports.
The sale figure is tens of thousands of dollars above estimates that tax assessors, a real estate website and a local agent gave the property, said the media outlet.
The property was not listed for sale publicly.
Source: Read Full Article