Overstock’s chief executive Patrick Byrne has quit his role has the retailer’s leader and severed ties with its board after admitting a romantic relationship with a Russian agent.
Byrne today informed the online furniture retailer’s shareholders in a statement that he would was “in the sad position of having to sever ties with Overstock, both as CEO and board member, effective Thursday August 22”.
The retailer’s shares divebombed more than 30 per cent earlier this month after Overstock released an inflammatory statement entitled “Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State, Withholds Further Comment”, which responded to claims in the media he was involved in the federal government’s “Russian investigation” into 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’ (in fact, I am the notorious ‘missing Chapter 1’ of the Russian investigation),” he stated.
Days later he told the New York Times that these comments were in relation to his “romantic” relationship with Maria Butina.
Butina, who has now been sentenced to 18 months in prison on a separate lesser charge, has been widely accused of being Russian agent, using her ties to the National Rifle Association (NRA) to infiltrate US politics.
Byrne said he met Butina in 2015 at FreedomFest, and came to expect she was a Russian spy. After informing the FBI of his suspicions, he claims he was told to carry on the relationship in order to report her activities.
The pair were reportedly involved in a sporadic romantic relationship for the next three years.
Overstock’s will now appoint board member Jonathon Johnson as interim chief executive, sending stocks jumping nearly 10 per cent.