Golfer Phil Mickelson was named today in an insider complaint by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, two years after an investigation was first reported. The SEC alleges that Mickelson profited $931,000 from non-public information after buying and selling stock in the Dean Foods company.
According to the SEC, from 2008 to 2012 Dean Foods director Thomas C. Davis gave his friend and professional sports bettor William “Billy” Walters inside information in Dean Foods. Walters—who was owed money by Davis—gave Davis around a million dollars for the information, and gained $40 million from it. Davis and Walters are the defendants the SEC is really going after, while Mickelson and two corporations are named as “relief defendants,” meaning they received illegally obtained property.
Mickelson, a notorious gambler, allegedly placed bets with Walters, and owed him money. Walters then passed along information about Dean Foods that he’d learned from Davis, and when Mickelson profited from it he repaid his gambling debts, says the SEC.
According to the complaint, Mickelson was very dumb and obvious about his insider trading:
In addition to trading based on the material nonpublic information that he received from Davis, Walters sought to obtain additional benefits by tipping his friend, Mickelson, to buy Dean Foods securities. On Friday, July 27, Walters called Mickelson. The two exchanged text messages later that day, and again on July 28, 2012.
On Monday, July 30 and Tuesday, July 31, Mickelson bought, partially on margin, a total of 200,240 Dean Foods shares, a $2.4 million position, in three accounts he controlled. This position dwarfed the other holdings in the brokerage accounts, which collectively were valued at less than $250,000. Mickelson had not been a frequent trader and these were his first ever Dean Foods purchases.
There is a lot of other interesting stuff in the complaint, like Walters allegedly using “Dallas Cowboys” as the code name for Dean Foods, and Davis allegedly writing himself checks from a charity he ran to raise money for a battered women’s shelter.
The charges are civil, not criminal, so nobody is facing prison time.