When he was U.S. Attorney, Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie owned stock in a company that was at the time under investigation by his own office.
The development was first reported by the Star-Ledger today and addressed by Christie press conference earlier this afternoon.
Christie’s Justice Department disclosure financial forms show that he bought shares in Cendant Corp. in 2004 and sold them in 2005. The investment was worth $1,000 to $15,000 when he bought it and worth $1,000 to $15,000 when he sold it, according to the disclosure.
Asked by reporters about the investment today, Christie said he inherited the prosecution from his predecessor as U.S. Attorney predecessor, Robert Cleary, and that although he saw the investment in his portfolio “the way my investments worked, I had no authority to order the buying or the selling of any particular stocks in that fund.”
“Those decisions were all made by my investment advisor, and I did not have the ability tell him to buy any particular stock or sell any particular stock.”
Christie presided over the office when two former executives were convicted in federal court in Connecticut. In 2007, former CEO Walter Forbes was sentenced to 151 months in prison for false filing and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Two years earlier, former Vice Chairman E. Kirk Shelton was sentenced to a 10 year term.
Christie added that “Cendant was not a party to anything we were doing in the office. We had a criminal investigation against two former executives who had long since left the company, and the decision to indict those executives were made by Bob Cleary, my predecessor. Not by me.”
Christie has spent the first half of this week needling Governor Corzine over his investment in TGP-Axon, a hedge fund that shares an address and name with Texas Pacific Group, which has a stake in four New Jersey casinos.
Christie said that “there was no reopening” of the investigation into Cendant in 2002, although his office did pursue some superseding indictments. His own campaign literature, however, says that he “reopened a multi-billion dollar meltdown Of Cendant Corporation” and “was able to finally convict the two “architects” that originally got away.”