Corker’s personal finances under FBI, SEC scrutiny

The FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission are scrutinizing Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker’s personal finances, including stock transactions involving one of the nation’s top developers of shopping centers and malls, says Politico, quoting “multiple sources familiar with the probe.”

Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a potential vice presidential pick, failed to report millions of dollars in assets and income on his annual financial disclosure until The Wall Street Journal revealed the discrepancy last fall. In the wake of that report, Corker was forced to revise years’ worth of disclosure reports.

Corker denies any wrongdoing in how he has conducted his personal finances. Approached in the Capitol on Tuesday, he declined to comment when asked if he had been contacted by federal investigators and said his office would provide a statement on the matter.

A Corker spokeswoman blamed a watchdog group, Campaign for Accountability, for filing a complaint with the SEC last year that led to the current federal probe that has ensnared the Tennessee Republican.

“A politically motivated special interest group that refuses to disclose its donors continues to make baseless charges against Senator Corker, and we know that any effort to examine his actions will result in their smear campaign being discredited,” said Micah Johnson, Corker’s spokeswoman.

Corker has denied having any inside information on CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based real estate investment trust that owns or manages dozens of shopping centers and malls across the country. Corker briefly worked for a CBL subcontractor after college, and he has close ties to senior officials at the company, some of whom have donated to his election campaigns.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night that the federal investigators are looking into possible irregularities in CBL financial statements. CBL said it had not been contacted by any federal agency. The Journal reported that FBI and SEC officials had found no evidence of wrongdoing by Corker.

Excerpt from the referenced WSJ article :

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission are focusing their examination of CBL & Associates Properties Inc. on whether officials at the Chattanooga, Tenn., company falsified information on financial statements to banks when applying for financing arrangements, the people said. Law-enforcement officials have talked to former CBL employees who allege the company inflated its rental income and its properties’ occupancy rates when reporting those figures to banks, the people said.

The FBI and SEC officials have also separately asked questions about the relationship between the company and Mr. Corker, who is close with senior executives at the firm and has made millions of dollars in profits trading the company’s stock in recent years. Authorities don’t believe that Mr. Corker was involved in the company’s potential accounting issues, but they are interested in learning more about the senator’s trading in CBL’s stock, the people said.

They have found no evidence to suggest that Mr. Corker has committed wrongdoing.