Carl Icahn is doing damage control this morning after a report claimed he’s embroiled in an investigation connected to his involvement in The Clorox Co (NYSE:CLX). However, he says it was news to him and that he’s innocent of wrongdoing in the case. The FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been said to be investigating him, gambler Billy Walters and professional golfer Phil Mickelson.
What Icahn had to say
Bloomberg Street Smart anchor Trish Regan spoke with Icahn over the weekend about the report linking him to an alleged investigation. He told her that the first he had heard of the investigation was when he read about it in The Wall Street Journal.
“We do not know of any investigation… We believe that making inflammatory and speculative statements… is completely irresponsible on the part of The Wall Street Journal,” he told Regan.
He also cited his “unblemished record” stretching back 50 years and said that he has never given any insider information to anyone. In addition, he said he’s never met or spoken with golfer Phil Mickelson, although he does know Billy Walters.
The report indicated that the agencies are also investigating Mickelson’s and Walter’s trading in Dean Foods Co (NYSE:DF), which does not involve Carl Icahn.
Could Icahn have crossed the line?
Regan reported that in order to be found guilty of insider trading, Icahn would have had to violated at least one of two rules. One is Rule 14e3, which states that parties will notify someone that they plan to make a tender offer to buy a company. The other is rule 10b5, which involves breaching a fiduciary duty.
So the question would be whether Carl Icahn told Billy Walters that he was planning to submit a tender offer for The Clorox Co (NYSE:CLX)? However, he never actually made that offer. He only sent a public letter saying that he was thinking about doing it. He never actually did it. Columbia law professor John Coffee told Regan that this would not be considered insider trading. An attorney who prosecutes insider trading cases also said that this case appears to be a sloppy one if authorities really are investigating.