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Report: ASU alum Phil Mickelson at forefront of insider trading investigation

PHOENIX — One of the PGA Tour’s most popular golfers might be in some hot water for his activities away from the links.

According to reports by both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Phil Mickelson, an ASU alum, is being investigated by the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in regards to information he and well-known Las Vegas gambler William Walters may have received pertaining to Clorox — a company billionaire investor Carl Icahn was trying to takeover in July 2011.

The probe centers around whether Mickelson and Walters were given any information that may have benefited the two financially, as the pair reportedly placed their stock trades on Clorox around the time of Icahn’s potential takeover bid.

The F.B.I. and Securities and Exchange Commission, which are leading the inquiry along with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, are examining whether Mr. Icahn leaked details of his Clorox bid to Mr. Walters, the people briefed on the investigation said. One theory, the people said, is that Mr. Walters might have passed on that information to Mr. Mickelson.

Around the time of the trading, the S.E.C. sent Mr. Icahn a routine request for information about his dealings in Clorox, the people briefed on the matter said. Federal authorities, whose investigation has dragged on for more than two years without yielding definitive evidence of insider trading, are also examining phone records to see whether Mr. Walters spoke to Mr. Icahn shortly before the trades. Mr. Icahn’s bid for Clorox ultimately failed.

As of Friday, none of the three have been accused of any wrongdoing by either the FBI or SEC. As the New York Times noted, Icahn might not have committed a crime if he leaked information about his firm’s plan to bid on Clorox. It would be illegal, however, if he did so after agreeing to a duty of confidentiality with his investors.

Mickelson and Walters are also being investigated for trades they made in Aug. 2012 on Dean Foods, a Dallas-based food and beverage company. Icahn doesn’t appear to be connected with that part of the probe.

The 43-year-old Mickelson has won 42 events during his PGA Tour career, including five major championships.

He’s currently the No. 11-ranked golfer in the world.