WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is in the early stages of investigating the failure of George J. Tenet, President Clinton's nominee to head the CIA, to disclose his part interest in stocks and property inherited from his father, Clinton administration officials said Wednesday.
Two Justice Department officials said the preliminary inquiry has been underway for more than a week, and the White House had been aware of the matter at the time of Tenet's nomination.
The officials said the inquiry could possibly lead to the appointment of an independent counsel, depending on the results. In his current job as deputy director of the CIA, Tenet is covered under the independent counsel law.
A White House official said the matter involved telephone company stock and real estate in Athens, Greece, that Tenet became joint owner of with his mother and brother after his father died.
The official said Tenet, who worked on the White House National Security Council staff from 1993 to 1995, had been unaware until 1994 that he was among the owners of the stock and unaware of the details of the real estate in Greece.
Tenet then informed a White House ethics officer and was told he had to remove himself from issues involving those matters. The official said Tenet also corrected his financial disclosure forms.
"The White House was aware of this and actually advised the Department of Justice of it at the time the president nominated Tenet," the official said.