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Report: Mickelson’s role overstated in insider trading inquiry

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Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
Phil Mickelson watches his second shot from the 12th fairway rough Thursday morning at Pinehurst No. 2 during the first round of the U.S. Open.

PINEHURST Although he continues to face an FBI investigation into alleged insider trading, golfer Phil Mickelson won’t face criminal charges in the matter, the New York Times reported Thursday.

According to the story, Mickelson’s “ties to the investigation are weaker than previously reported.” The Times, speaking with four people familiar with the matter, said Mickelson did not trade shares of Chlorox as billionaire investor Carl Icahn was mounting an unsolicited takeover bid for the company in 2011.

And although Mickelson is still under investigation for well-timed trades made in Dean Foods in 2012 just before the company’s stock soared, he will not be criminally charged, an FBI agent told two people briefed on the matter.

“I have done nothing wrong and I’ll continue to help out in anyway,” Mickelson said after completing his round Thursday at the U.S. Open. “With an investigation going on, I’m not going to comment any further on it. I do have a lot to say and will say a lot about it at right time, but can’t right now.”

The Times reported that “while Mr. Icahn and Mr. Walters remain under investigation over Clorox, the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission have found no evidence that Mr. Mickelson traded Clorox shares. The overstated scope of the investigation came from information provided to The Times by other people briefed on the matter who have since acknowledged making a mistake.”

The Times also said that new details, provided in the interviews with the people briefed on the matter, may also raise questions about the government’s decision to use what appear to be unusually aggressive tactics in the investigation, particularly when the FBI agents publicly approached Mickelson even though he is known to have a lawyer and a sports agent.

“(The investigation) hasn’t affected my preparation for the tournament,” Mickelson said after shooting an even-par 70 Thursday.

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