David Perdue says SEC ‘totally exonerated’ him, something the SEC can’t legally do

ATLANTA – Faced with a steady stream of reports of his well-timed stock trades, Senator David Perdue (R-GA) defends himself with a line that his greatest ally, President Donald Trump, has practically turned into a mantra.

“Totally exonerated,” says a recently released television ad by Perdue, which claims to have been fully authorized by the Department of Justice and the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.

Except that none of the agencies has this power.

The two agencies have transactions made by Perdue at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and both reportedly concluded those investigations without laying criminal or civil charges. But contrary to Perdue’s claims, that finding doesn’t amount to an exemption – because these agencies don’t explicitly issue them.

The Republican of Georgia, currently in the midst of a grueling campaign, has not provided any documentation to the public on government polls in his stock trading. Perhaps that’s because any messages Perdue might have received from the federal government would have likely painted a much more ambiguous picture of his business, securities law experts told The Daily Beast.

When closing a case, the SEC may notify the entity that it “does not intend to recommend enforcement action.” But the message also includes a clear caveat that the notice “should in no way be interpreted as indicating that the party has been exonerated or that no action can result from the staff investigation.” Most of the time, say the defense attorneys who worked on the cases, neither agency issues a letter or notice of some sort that a case has been closed, letting them read the tea leaves to find out. what the investigators are preparing.

There is a significant difference between an exemption and a decision not to charge, experts say. “It’s good news for him, but it doesn’t exonerate him,” said Chris Bruno, a former DOJ prosecutor, who can lay criminal charges for insider trading. “It just means they haven’t been able to find any relevant evidence that would justify a case, at this static moment, beyond a reasonable doubt, and that’s different from someone’s exemption.” . They don’t say they’ve found evidence of innocence.

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