(Reuters) - A non-profit watchdog group on Tuesday called on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and a Senate ethics panel to probe whether Republican Senator Bob Corker engaged in insider trading and made false statements on financial disclosure forms.
The Campaign for Accountability said that Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is a senior Banking Committee member, “made an astonishing 70 trades of stock in the real estate investment giant CBL and Associates Properties.”
The group said some of the transactions “closely preceded company announcements that led to changes in the stock’s price and seemingly resulted in the senator making millions of dollars.”
Last week, the Wall Street Journal wrote about Corker’s trades, reporting that CBL stock purchases were disclosed recently, after questions from the newspaper about “apparent discrepancies in his Senate financial-disclosure reports.”
The Campaign for Accountability said Corker “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.”
A Corker spokeswoman on Tuesday said: “These baseless accusations from a political special interest group are categorically false and nothing more than a smear campaign.”
She added that Corker “always has disclosed to the public that he invests in CBL since he first held stock in the company back in 2007.” But the accounting firm that worked on his financial disclosure reports did not list the dates of some transactions, she added. “We are correcting this technical oversight.”
The Campaign for Accountability noted that Corker’s recently-amended filings reported a 2009 purchase of between $1 million and $5 million of CBL stock, “sold just five months later in 2010 at a 42 percent profit.”
Subsequent stock purchases also brought Corker large gains, the group said.