Billionaire investor Carl Icahn on Thursday said environmental and banking regulations stifle business investment and re-writing the rules would be a top priority in his role as adviser to President-elect Donald Trump.
“Under President Obama, America’s business owners have been crippled by over $1 trillion in new regulations and over 750 billion hours dealing with paperwork," Icahn said in a statement released by the Trump transition team. "It’s time to break free of excessive regulation and let our entrepreneurs do what they do best: create jobs and support communities."
Icahn, named by Trump on Wednesday as a special adviser for regulatory reform, also said in an interview on CNBC it's "crazy" to say he should sell his holdings to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest while serving as an adviser.
The president-elect's transition team said in a statement that the activist investor will aid him in an "individual capacity" rather than as a federal employee or special government employee, adding that he will not have "specific duties."
Icahn, 80, said an any objection to his role as an adviser to Trump is like saying JPMorgan Chase & Co. chief executive Jamie Dimon shouldn't talk to Trump about financial issues while owning a stake in one of the biggest U.S. banks.
"It's almost ridiculous to say, I'm going to give my opinion to Donald, but I shouldn't own stocks. It's like, to me, crazy," Icahn told CNBC.
Icahn helped Trump to pick Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Dow Jones reported. Icahn will also help to choose the next chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
USA Today reported that Icahn's role in picking Wall Street's top cop is being criticized as a conflict of interest.
"It is very disconcerting and troubling to people who take investor protection issues seriously," Andrew Stoltmann, partner at securities law firm Stoltmann Law, told the newspaper. "It's a little like asking the fox to guard the hen house."
Icahn pointed to his history as an activist shareholder who questions the decisions of corporate managers.
"I don't even understand the statement because I just look at my record ... where we made hundreds of billions of dollars for shareholders," Icahn said. "Now you're going to say that my being involved in asking for more accountability or thinking this country should have it and my being involved is going to hurt. I just don't understand the criticism."
(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).
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