David Sokol said Monday he hasn't heard from federal securities regulators for five months and doesn't know if he's under investigation.
The absence of contact, Sokol said, doesn't rule out an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “They have no obligation to tell you anything.”
But even if the SEC is investigating, he said in a brief interview, “There's nothing there.”
At issue is a series of stock trades by Sokol in 2010 and 2011 while he was an executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the Omaha investment company headed by Warren Buffett.
Sokol, once believed to be a possible successor to Buffett, also said Monday that his legal expenses being paid by Berkshire are not related to an SEC investigation. Rather, he said, the legal work is on unrelated matters that arose while he was a Berkshire executive, and the company had agreed to pay such expenses.
Sokol was in Omaha for a luncheon for D.J.'s Heroes, a scholarship fund named after his late son.
Buffett's office did not respond to a request for comment.
In February and again earlier this month, Buffett said the fact that Berkshire was getting legal bills for Sokol led him to assume the SEC is investigating Sokol's purchases of stock in Lubrizol Corp., an Ohio chemical company that Berkshire acquired last year.
Sokol had bought Lubrizol shares and touted the company to Buffett as a possible acquisition. When Berkshire offered to buy Lubrizol, the per-share price was higher than Sokol had paid, giving him a potential $2.8 million gain.
When Sokol resigned from Berkshire in March 2011, he said that he wanted to form his own investment company and that the Lubrizol matter was not a factor. He has denied wrongdoing and said he didn't know Berkshire would buy Lubrizol at the time he purchased the stock.
But a Berkshire audit committee said that Sokol's trades were violations of company stock-trading policies that would call for firing, and that he had misled senior Berkshire officials, including Buffett. Berkshire reported the trades to the SEC. Buffett has said he last talked to SEC officials about Sokol in June 2011.
The agency has not issued public comments about the matter. A spokeswoman said the SEC doesn't comment on whether investigations are under way.
The Omaha World-Herald Co. is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
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