Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said he’s not aware of any investigation involving him and golfer Phil Mickelson regarding trades related to Clorox and Dean Foods, and called a report by the Wall Street Journal "completely irresponsible."
"I never purchased or have been involved in any way with Dean Foods," Icahn said in a telephone interview. "While I have obviously heard of Phil Mickelson, I have never spoken to him or met him."
Icahn, Mickelson and sports gambler William Walters are targets of an insider-trading probe by U.S. authorities, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing people briefed on the investigation. The probe is looking at large option trades in the days before Icahn's $10.2 billion offer for Clorox in July 2011, as well as trading patterns related to Dean Foods, the Journal said. The New York Times also reported the probe.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into whether Mickelson and Walters traded illicitly on nonpublic information from Icahn about his investments in public companies, the Journal reported, citing the people.
Icahn, 78, has "never given out inside information," he said. "We are always very careful to observe all legal requirements in all of our activities. We believe that making inflammatory and speculative statements, especially when we've had an unblemished record for 50 years, is completely irresponsible on the part of the Wall Street Journal."
"We stand by our story," said Paula Keve, a spokeswoman for the Journal's publisher, Dow Jones, in an e-mail.
The New York Times didn’t name its sources, citing people briefed on the investigation. Officials from the newspaper didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed requests for comment.
Mickelson, 43, denied any wrongdoing and said he is cooperating with the government.
"I have done absolutely nothing wrong," Mickelson said in a statement released May 31. "I have cooperated with the government in this investigation and will continue to do so. I wish I could fully discuss this matter, but under the current circumstances it's just not possible."
Mickelson and Walters placed their trades about the same time in 2011, the Associated Press reported, citing an unidentified federal official. Investigators are examining whether Icahn shared information on the Clorox takeover attempt with Walters, and whether Walters subsequently shared this with Mickelson, according to AP.
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