SALT LAKE CITY — Share prices for Utah’s e-commerce company Overstock have taken a dive this week after its CEO issued a statement claiming that he assisted in an investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 election.
"Starting in 2015 I (operating under the belief that I was helping legitimate law enforcement efforts) assisted in what are now known as the 'Clinton Investigation' and the 'Russian Investigation,'" CEO Patrick Byrne said in a statement posted to the company's website. "It was the third time in my life I helped the Men in Black."
Byrne claims he acted as an informant for the FBI when his friend was murdered, and when he helped the FBI “shake up Wall Street a decade ago.”
“Unfortunately, this third time turned out to be less about law enforcement and more about political espionage conducted against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (and to a lesser degree, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz),” he said.
In the statement, Byrne confirmed the veracity of two articles written by freelance journalist Sara Carter, who claimed that the CEO turned over documents to the Department of Justice on the "FBI’s Russian and Hillary Clinton probes."
Carter also claimed that Byrne had a romantic relationship with Maria Butina, a woman sentenced to 18 months in prison for her role as a secret agent for Russia. Butina admitted last year to gathering information on the National Rifle Association and other groups at the direction of a former Russian lawmaker.
"In July 2018 I put the pieces together," Byrne said in the statement. "I immediately ... came forward to a Congressman and a senior military officer, to the Department of Justice this April, and … to a small set of journalists this summer. Ms. Carter was among them. Her two stories are accurate."
Byrne also claims to be the "missing Chapter 1" of the Russian investigation. National news outlets reporting on the statement say Byrne "spins an insane Russian-spy drama, with himself as the star."
Since the CEO’s statement, Overstock’s shares have fallen from $26.06 on Monday to $15.68 at their lowest point Wednesday night and now $17.98 as of Thursday morning.
Byrne has been working to sell the retail side of Overstock for years as the company continues to focus on blockchain technology. The company laid off nearly 250 people in two months at the beginning of the year in an effort to make the company profitable and attractive to buyers.