01:34 GMT31 October 2020
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    Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, is one of a handful of US senators who are suspected of insider trading after selling equities worth hundreds of thousand of dollars before the coronavirus pandemic started ravaging the stock market.

    FBI agents have seized Senator Richard Burr’s cell phone as part of an investigation into his suspicious stock transactions, The Los Angeles Times reports, citing law enforcement officials.

    Unnamed sources told the newspaper that the bureau served an earlier warrant to obtain information from Burr’s Apple iCloud account and that the Justice Department was looking into communications between the senator and his broker.

    Burr's financial disclosure report showed that he sold up to $1.7 million in publicly traded stocks in February, just before a sharp downturn on the market caused by coronavirus lockdowns.

    Burr, who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, did so just a week after assuring the public that "the United States today is better prepared than ever" to respond to public health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The senator maintained that he relied "solely on public news reports" to guide his trades and did not base them on information from congressional briefings. The so-called STOCK Act of 2012 prohibits members of Congress from using non-public information for private profit.

    Three other senators, Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma, Kelly Loeffler from Georgia, and Dianne Feinsten from California, have likewise faced questions after their spouses or advisers offloaded large amounts of stock before the onset of the pandemic in the United States. All of them have denied wrongdoing, and none except Burr are understood to be investigated by the Justice Department.

    Tags:
    stocks, insider trading, COVID-19, coronavirus, US, FBI
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