The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reportedly closed its investigation into Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-SC) sale of upwards of $1.72 million in stock ahead of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Burr, the senior senator from North Carolina, was informed on Tuesday by the DOJ that its investigation into his “personal financial transactions” would not result in insider trading charges, according to the New York Times.
“Tonight, the Department of Justice informed me that it has concluded its review of my personal financial transactions conducted early last year,” Burr said in a statement to the outlet. “The case is now closed. I’m glad to hear it.”
Last year, Burr caught the attention of the media and federal investigators for selling off thousands of dollars worth of stock before U.S. markets tumbled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the shares that Burr unloaded were in the hospitality and service industries, including companies – like Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Hilton – that were hit especially hard when coronavirus travel restrictions went into place. Burr’s timely decision to sell netted him between $628,000 and $1.72 million.
The sale came less than a week before the stock market tumbled because of the virus, and it sparked accusations of insider trading. Critics, in particular, pointed to the fact that at the time of the sale the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which Burr then chaired, was receiving daily briefings on the threat posed by the coronavirus.
Adding to the appearance of impropriety is that Burr’s brother-in-law, then-political appointee in the Trump administration, also dumped upwards of $280,000 in stock on the same day as the senator.
When news of the stock trades first broke, Burr stepped down from his chairmanship of the Senate Intelligence Committee and agreed to cooperate with both a congressional ethics inquiry and any outside probe by law enforcement.
Throughout the endeavor, the senator denied any wrongdoing, arguing that he had “relied solely on public news reports to guide” his trading decisions.