PGA golfer Phil Mickelson agreed to forfeit almost $1 million that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said was obtained through insider trading. Mickelson was named as a “relief defendant” in a criminal case, filed in the Southern District of New York against professional gambler William Walters and a former director of Dean Foods, Thomas Davis. Mickelson was not criminally charged but is subject to a SEC civil action requiring a claw back of profits he made from the improper trades.
According the SEC complaint, Walters received non-public, insider information from 2008 through 2012 about Dean Foods, the nation’s largest milk producer, from his long-time friend Davis, who was at the time chairman of Dean Foods. The inside information concerned plan to spin off subsidiary WhiteWave Foods Co.
In 2012, Mickelson received a telephone tip from Walters that Mickelson should purchase Dean Foods stock because the company was about to spin off its profitable subsidiary. At the time of the call, Mickelson owed Walters money over sports gambling bets. Walters is considered by many as the most successful sports bettor in the country.
Several days after receiving the call from Walters, Mickelson purchased $2.4 million in Dean Foods shares in three brokerage accounts he controlled. This was the first time Mickelson purchased Dean Foods stock. Nine days later, the WhiteWave spin off was announced and the Dean Foods’ stock price jumped 40 percent. The next day, Mickelson sold his shares for a profit of $931,000. Some of the profits made from the improper trades were used to reimburse Walters, who made more than $17 million from the insider information.
Mickelson, whose counsel said felt “vindicated” by the SEC decision, announced that he intends to repay all the money he made from the investment. Mickelson has been cooperating with federal authorities for two years after he finished playing a round at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio in May 2014.