Golfer Phil Mickelson might've unwittingly made $1 million from an insider-trading scheme

Insider trading charge against former Dean Foods chairman
Insider trading charge against former Dean Foods chairman

Golfer Phil Mickelson was named in an insider trading case by the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday morning, according to a filing.

The case alleges that Mickelson received insider tips from sport bettor Billy Walters, one of the co-lead defendants in the case, regarding Dean Foods. Walters was receiving the information from Dean Foods chairman Thomas Davis, the other co-lead defendant.

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According to the filing, Walters called Mickelson in July 2012 telling him to purchase Dean Foods stock based on information received from Davis that the company was about to spin off its WhiteWave division. The week after the phone call, Dean Foods stock rose 40%, making Mickelson almost $1 million.

In the case, Mickelson is a relief defendant, meaning that he was unaware of the scheme between Walters and Davis, and is not accused of insider trading, just unwittingly profiting from it.

The case focuses on tips passed to Walters by Davis between 2008 and 2012, which netted at least $40 million in profits.

Here's the SEC's breakdown (emphasis ours):

In July 2012, Walters called professional golfer Philip A. Mickelson. Mickelson had placed bets with Walters both before and after July 2012 and owed Walters money at the time of the telephone call. At a time when Walters was in possession of material nonpublic information regarding Dean Foods, Walters communicated with Mickelson and urged Mickelson to trade in Dean Foods stock, which Mickelson did the next trading day in three brokerage accounts he controlled. About one week later, Dean Foods's stock price jumped 40% on the announcements of the WhiteWave spin-off and strong second quarter ("Q2") 2012 earnings, allowing Mickelson to profit by approximately $931,000.

Depending on the outcome of the case, Mickelson will be required to pay back the profits gained from the trades.

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