A bombshell report that was published by the New York Post and other media outlets recently indicated that Phil Mickelson was at the center of an ongoing FBI investigation into a possible insider trading scheme. The New York Times, which also ran the original Mickelson story, admitted on Wednesday night that Mickelson’s role in the investigation has been “overstated.”
Mickelson was originally believed to be tied to the investigation through his alleged relationship with Las Vegas sports gambling guru Billy Walters. Initial speculation was that billionaire investor Carl Icahn may have tipped off Walters when he made a $10 billion offer to buy Clorox Inc. in 2011, causing the company’s stock to skyrocket. Mickelson would have then gotten the information from Walters.
However, the Times now claims Mickelson did not trade in his shares of Clorox at the time Icahn was preparing his massive bid. The government is reportedly seeking information from Mickelson regarding Walters, but he has been informed that there are no plans to criminally charge him.
The new details, provided in the interviews with the people briefed on the matter, indicate that Mr. Mickelson’s ties to the investigation are weaker than previously reported. The details may also raise questions about the government’s decision to deploy what appear to be unusually aggressive tactics in the investigation, particularly when the F.B.I. agents publicly approached Mr. Mickelson even though he is known to have a lawyer and a sports agent.
Mickelson, who has maintained that he has done nothing wrong, was approached by FBI agents after he finished a round at The Memorial Tournament in Ohio late last month. Several former federal prosecutors who spoke with the Times speculated that the government officials may have been aiming to embarrass Mickelson so he would be more inclined to cooperate against Walters.
While it appears Mickelson will not be charged with anything in relation to the Clorox trading situation, he may not be completely out of the woods. Investigators are still reportedly looking at separate trades he and Walters made in Dean Foods in 2012.
Mickelson is attempting to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the US Open this weekend. He has finished second in the event six times during his career.