The lives of a championship golfer, a gambler and a billionaire investor have collided in a federal insider-trading investigation. Federal authorities are examining a series of well-timed trades made by golfer Phil Mickelson and gambler William Walters, people briefed on the investigation said, focusing on trading in two stocks. Authorities are also questioning what role, if any, investor Carl Icahn may have had in sharing information about one of the stocks, of consumer-products company Clorox.
Mickelson, a three-time winner of the Masters and one of the country’s highest-earning athletes, placed his Clorox trade in 2011, people briefed on the investigation said. Walters, who is often considered the most successful sports bettor in the country, made a similar trade about that time, the people added.
Icahn, one of the world’s best-known investors, was mounting a takeover bid for Clorox around the time Mickelson and Walters placed their trades.
The FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which are leading the inquiry along with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, are examining whether Icahn leaked details of his Clorox bid to Walters, sources said.
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Seeking additional leads in the investigation, which has continued for two years, the SEC sent Icahn a request for documents about his dealings in Clorox, sources said. Authorities are also examining phone records to see whether Walters spoke to Icahn, whose bid for Clorox ultimately failed, shortly before the trades. Mickelson, Walters and Icahn have not been accused of wrongdoing.
In a separate strand of the investigation, authorities are looking into trading in Dean Foods that has no apparent connection to Icahn, the sources said. Walters and Mickelson placed the trades around August 2012, according to sources, just before the food-and-beverage company announced a public offering of stock for one of its subsidiaries. The authorities are investigating whether Walters had a source inside the company, and whether others who know Walters may have traded on the information.
Walters said late Friday: “While I don’t have any comment, pal, I’ll talk to you later.” Icahn, who acknowledged knowing Walters but said he had never met or spoken to Mickelson, said any suggestion he did anything wrong was “irresponsible.” Representatives for Mickelson did not comment, and federal authorities declined to comment.