Campaign for Accountability Requests SEC and Ethics Investigation of Sen. Robert Corker (R-TN) for Insider Trading
Photo: Gary Cameron, Reuters
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 10, 2015
Contact: Dan Stevens, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA) filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, alleging Sen. Robert Corker (R-TN) may have engaged in insider trading and made false statements on his personal financial disclosure forms in violation of federal law and Senate rules.
Between 2008 and 2015, Sen. Corker, his wife and daughters made an astonishing 70 trades of stock in the real estate investment giant CBL & Associates Properties – more than triple the number of transactions he made of any other stock. Some of the trades closely preceded company announcements that led to changes in the stock’s price and seemingly resulted in the senator making millions of dollars.
CfA Executive Director Anne Weismann stated, “Sen. Corker’s trades followed a consistent pattern — he bought low and sold high. It beggars belief to suggest these trades – netting the senator and his family millions – were mere coincidences.”
As the Wall Street Journal has reported, Sen. Corker failed to report numerous trades of CBL stock. Federal law requires members of Congress to report stock trades and file reports disclosing their assets. Many of Sen. Corker’s profitable trades were made in advance of his broker, UBS, issuing reports impacting CBL’s trading price.
Sen. Corker recently amended his filings to reveal a 2009 purchase of between $1 and $5 million of CBL stock, sold just five months later in 2010 at a 42% profit. Similarly, Sen. Corker made purchases worth between $3 and $15 million in 2010 and, just after his last trade, UBS said it was upgrading its outlook. The stock went up 18%. Shortly thereafter, Sen. Corker began selling; a week later, UBS downgraded the stock and the share price soon declined about 10%.
Sen. Corker’s explanations for failing to report his assets have changed. In 2013, his accountant filed an amendment to his 2011 personal financial disclosure forms blaming reporting errors on UBS for failing to properly report them to the senator. In 2011, however, Sen. Corker had suggested to the Journal that he alone was responsible for his CBL trades. Now, Sen. Corker has blamed the inaccuracies on his accountants.
Sen. Corker has maintained close ties to both CBL and UBS throughout his career. He worked for an affiliate of CBL before starting his own business, and its executives, employees, and their spouses have been among his top campaign donors. UBS is the 11th-largest contributor to Sen. Corker’s campaign.
As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Corker has advanced legislation that would financially benefit UBS and CBL. If Sen. Corker’s trades were based on material, non-public information he received from anyone with a fiduciary duty to CBL or UBS in return for any benefit, the senator may have engaged in insider trading. And, if the senator knowingly failed to report his CBL assets, he may have committed the crime of making false statements.
“When Sen. Corker advances legislation beneficial to UBS and CBL is it because he thinks it’s good for the nation or just good for his bank account?” Weismann continued, “The SEC and the Senate Ethics Committee should investigate and find out.”
The complaint can be found here.
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.