FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CRM MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 1997 (202) 514-2008 TDD (202) 514-1888
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND SAMUEL R. BERGER, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, REACH SETTLEMENT OF CIVIL SUIT FOR FINANCIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Justice announced today that Samuel R. Berger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, has agreed to pay $23,043 in settlement of a civil suit by the United States for an alleged financial conflict of interest violation.
The suit and the settlement papers were filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The civil settlement grew out of an investigation into allegations that during early 1995 Berger took action, as Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, in matters that may have had a direct and predictable effect on Amoco Corporation.
At the time of Berger's action, his wife and minor children had trusts that held stock in Amoco Corporation. The Government's Complaint alleges that this was a violation of the federal financial conflicts of interest statute (18 U.S.C. § 208), which prohibits a federal official from knowingly participating personally and substantially in a matter in which he has a financial interest.
Civil penalties are available under 18 U.S.C. § 216 to sanction non-willful violations of Section 208. That statute also provides misdemeanor sanctions for non-willful violations and felony sanctions for willful violations.
In agreeing to the settlement, Berger admitted that in January and March of 1994, he had been advised by White House and NSC attorneys that his family's ownership of Amoco stock might create a conflict of interest for him, and that he should therefore divest that stock.
In Berger's answer to the complaint, Berger alleged that he fully intended to divest the stock, but neglected to follow up promptly, and over time totally forgot about the issue and his family's ownership of the stock.
He therefore denied that he had knowingly participated personally and substantially as a government officer in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he had a financial interest, the element of intent required to prove a criminal offense under 18 U.S.C. § 208.
The $23,043 provided for in the settlement agreement represents the increase in value of Berger's family's Amoco stock and the dividends paid to Berger's family on that stock between his receipt of the March 1994 advice to divest and the date in June of 1995 when he did divest.
As such, Berger is remitting the entire amount of the potential profit he obtained from allegedly failing to comply with Section 208 during that period.
This matter was handled by the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section. The investigation was conducted by the FBI.