Icahn in insider trading probe in connection with golfer and gambler
The SEC and FBI are investigating activist investor Carl Icahn, golfer Phil Mickelson and gambler William Walters in connection with allegations of insider trading, according to media reports.
US authorities are investigating whether Icahn passed private information about his investment plans to Mickelson and Walters, allowing them to potentially profit by making investments ahead of possibly market-moving public announcements, report the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Reuters news agency, all citing unidentified sources.
The WSJ, which calls the investigation a ‘major insider trading probe involving finance, gambling and sports’, reports that authorities are examining whether Icahn passed tips on to Walters, who is particularly known for sports betting, regarding the activist investor’s financial moves.
The newspaper says the FBI and SEC are investigating whether Walters then passed at least one tip on to Mickelson. Authorities are investigating the trading records of both Mickelson and Walters, the paper writes, citing multiple sources. It says two FBI agents approached Mickelson on May 29 after a golf game, and he referred them to his lawyer.
Icahn has called the allegations ‘inflammatory and speculative’ and says he is aware of no such investigation. ‘We do not know of any investigation,’ the WSJ quotes him as saying. ‘We are always very careful to observe all legal requirements in all of our activities.’ Glenn Cohen, a lawyer for Mickelson, says ‘Phil is not the target of any investigation. Period.’
The New York Times reports that the investigation started three years ago and focuses on trades in Clorox Company shares carried out by Walters and Mickelson while Icahn was preparing a takeover bid for the company. Authorities are also examining telephone records to determine whether the men were in contact around the time of the trades.
Investigators are also probing Mickelson and Walters in a separate investigation into trading of shares in Dean Foods, the New York Times reports, adding that the probe has no connection with Icahn.