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Rep. Morelle Joseph, D-N.Y.
Rep. Morelle Joseph, D-N.Y. (U.S. House)

(Tribune News Service) — New York Rep. Joseph Morelle and his wife ended up with as much as $250,000 in an account with the Bank of China last year after their broker deposited the proceeds of a stock sale.

Morelle, a Rochester-area Democrat who has served in Congress since 2018, disclosed the account at the state-owned Chinese bank in a required congressional financial disclosure form. A statement from his office indicated he wasn’t immediately aware of it when the couple divested holdings of individual publicly traded securities.

“The proceeds were swept into the account in question at the direction of the brokerage firm, not at the direction of the Congressman. Upon discovery, immediate action was taken to withdraw the funds, which no longer reside in the account in question,” according to the statement.

Neither the statement nor the disclosure form identified the brokerage. U.S. relations with China have been strained and it’s been a politically sensitive issue in Congress as members of both parties have pushed to punish the government in Beijing over trade and human rights.

Morelle, in a brief interview Friday night, said he had decided to sell his tech and medical-related securities “to avoid any appearance of conflict” as he dealt with issues involving those industries in Congress.

Members are required to annually disclose certain financial holdings they had the previous year, and the forms report amounts in wide ranges. The Bank of China account for Morelle and his wife was listed as having a value of $100,001 to $250,000, and is described as “Deposit of the proceeds of the sale of the reported securities into a sweep account.” The account produced interest income of between $1 and $200.

The disclosure lists 15 of the couple’s jointly held securities as being sold on Nov. 20, the same date as the sweep deposits made into the Bank of China account.

Those include between $15,001 to $50,000 worth of Microsoft Corp. stock and another $15,001 to $50,000 worth of common stock in UnitedHealth Group Inc.

Some of the other stock sales on that date included between $1,001 and $15,000 worth in each of Alphabet Inc.; Amazon.com Inc.; Apple Inc.; MetLife, Inc.; Phillips 66; Prudential Financial, Inc.; Procter & Gamble Co; and AbbVie, Inc.

Morelle serves as a member of the House Committee on Rules, the Committee on Budget, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Committee on Education and Labor. He includes the “Buy American Caucus” as among those he participates in.

The Bank of China’s global website lists four U.S. branches, two in New York City, and one each in Chicago and Los Angeles.

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©2021 Bloomberg L.P. Visit bloomberg.com.  Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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