Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, recently defended his long-time business partner, Warren Buffett, against allegations made in a ProPublica report. The report claimed that Buffett traded stocks in his personal investment account that were also being bought and sold by Berkshire Hathaway. In a video interview with CNBC's Becky Quick, Munger dismissed the notion that Buffett would engage in any unethical behavior, stating, "'I don't think there's the slightest chance that Warren Buffett is doing something that is deeply evil to make money for himself.'"
The report, released on November 9th, purportedly contained leaked documents from the Internal Revenue Service. It suggested that Buffett traded equities in his private account during the same quarter as Berkshire Hathaway traded those same stocks in 2009 and 2012. Stocks such as Walmart, Wells Fargo, and Johnson & Johnson were mentioned as examples of investments that both Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway were involved in.
Munger emphasized that Buffett prioritizes Berkshire Hathaway's interests above his own financial gain. He highlighted that Buffett has already committed to donating nearly 99% of his wealth to philanthropic causes either during his lifetime or after his death. Munger commented, "He cares more about what happens to Berkshire than he cares what happens to his own money... He gave all his own money away. He doesn't even have it anymore."
Buffett, at 93 years old, has publicly acknowledged that he maintains a separate personal investment account from Berkshire Hathaway. Unlike Berkshire Hathaway, which is required to disclose its holdings on a quarterly basis, Buffett's personal account does not have the same obligation.
In the past, Buffett has distanced himself from stock trades that could be perceived as conflicting with Berkshire Hathaway's interests. During the company's annual meeting in 2016, Buffett stated, "I try to stay away from anything that could conflict with Berkshire... I can't be buying what Berkshire is buying."
At the time of writing, Berkshire Hathaway has not responded to a request for comment.
According to Forbes, Warren Buffett's net worth stands at $120.1 billion, making him the fifth wealthiest individual globally. Only Larry Ellison, Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault, and Elon Musk have a higher net worth.