Say it ain’t so? Phil Mickelson being probed by FBI, SEC for insider-trading

Golf Pro, Masters winner, and all around “nice” guy Phil Mickelson seems to be doing more than playing golf these days, according to a new probe by the FBI and SEC.

The story broke yesterday via WSJ:

Federal investigators are pursuing a major insider-trading probe involving finance, gambling and sports, examining the trading of investor Carl Icahn, golfer Phil Mickelson and Las Vegas bettor William “Billy” Walters.

So we got the golfer, the billionaire investor and the Vegas gambler discussing more than their handicap on the course. The FBI and SEC are examining some well timed stock trades in Clorox in 2011. Coincidentally, this is right around the time Carl Icahn made a $10.2 billion bid for the company.

Playing six degrees of separation (or in this case one degree of separation) gives us the following connection between the three men, via Zerohedge:

Mr. Icahn met Mr. Walters, 67, through a mutual acquaintance when Mr. Icahn’s company owned the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas. Mr. Icahn bought the Stratosphere in 1998 and sold it along with several other properties for $1.2 billion in 2008.

The two struck up a friendship. Mr. Icahn was once an avid poker player and enjoys betting on football games. The two have spoken about stocks.

Mr. Walters and Mr. Mickelson, 43, play golf together, said people familiar with their relationship. Sometimes Mr. Walters has suggested stocks for Mr. Mickelson to consider buying, one of the people said.

Mr. Icahn is pleading the fifth saying he has no idea who Phil Mickelson is. That sounds believable for sure.

Of course all men are denying all the buzz around the probe, and well, we all know when someone begins the denial process, chances are the story has some merit.

More via WSJ:

“We do not know of any investigation,” Mr. Icahn said on Friday. “We are always very careful to observe all legal requirements in all of our activities.” The suggestion that he was involved in improper trading, he said, was “inflammatory and speculative.”

“Phil is not the target of any investigation. Period,” said a lawyer for Mr. Mickelson, Glenn Cohen, on Friday, adding that an FBI agent had told him Mr. Mickelson wasn’t a target. The FBI declined to comment on Mr. Cohen’s statement.

With so much money that pours in from his tournament wins and sponsorships, why would Phil risk it all? Let’s wait and see how this story unfolds.


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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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