Mick­el­son star wit­ness in in­sider trad­ing case

New Straits Times - - Sport -

NEW YORK: A pros­e­cu­tor and a de­fence at­tor­ney at an in­sider trad­ing trial agreed that golfer Phil Mick­el­son was piv­otal to their case on Wed­nes­day, telling jurors that what they’ll learn about him will help them de­cide whether a pro­fes­sional Las Vegas gam­bler earned over US$40 mil­lion (RM180 mil­lion) il­le­gally through in­sider trad­ing.

The golfer’s name first arose dur­ing open­ing state­ments when As­sis­tant US At­tor­ney Michael Fer­rara told Man­hat­tan fed­eral court j urors that gam­bler Wil­liam “Billy” Walters en­cour­aged friends, in­clud­ing Mick­el­son, to buy stock in Dean Foods Co., a Dal­las-based com­pany that is one of the na­tion’s largest pro­ces­sors of milk for re­tail­ers.

Fer­rara said Walters knew in­side in­for­ma­tion he got from a for­mer Dean Foods board mem­ber was a sure thing. He called it “an­other way you know Walters had the hottest in­for­ma­tion in town.”

Mick­el­son was spared from crim­i­nal charges af­ter the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Commission ac­cused him in a civil law­suit of mak­ing nearly US$1 mil­lion in a 2012 stock trade that Walters sug­gested he make. The golfer agreed to re­pay it.

Given his turn be­fore jurors, de­fence at­tor­ney Barry Berke in­voked Mick­el­son’s name as proof that his client is in­no­cent, say­ing it wouldn’t make sense for Walters to tell se­crets to a celebrity.

“If you’re Bill Walters and some­body’s giv­ing you in­side in­for­ma­tion, the last thing you would do is give it to Phil Mick­el­son, one of the most fa­mous ath­letes in the world who is go­ing to at­tract reg­u­la­tory scru­tiny.”

Nei­ther at­tor­ney promised jurors they would hear Mick­el­son tes­tify. But US District Judge Kevin Cas­tel hinted at it as a pos­si­bil­ity when he asked prospective jurors on Mon­day if they could be fair “if some­body comes up here and says: ‘I’m a pro­fes­sional golfer.’”

Fer­rara said pros­e­cu­tors will use trad­ing and phone records, along with other doc­u­ments, to sup­ple­ment the tes­ti­mony of Tom Davis, a for­mer Dean Foods board mem­ber who will tes­tify that he fed Walters se­crets about the com­pany from 2008 to 2013. Davis, who met Walters while golf­ing, has pleaded guilty to in­sider trad­ing charges and is co­op­er­at­ing with the gov­ern­ment. AP

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