February 28, 2013

Michael Milken Probed by SEC for Guggenheim Ties: Report

Commission allegedly investigating whether investment actions violated lifetime ban

Michael Milken in 2004. (Photo: AP) Michael Milken in 2004. (Photo: AP)

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Call him the Pete Rose of the investment world.

In breaking news seemingly from 1987, the Securities and Exchange Commission is allegedly investigating whether Michael Milken violated his lifetime ban from the securities industry by acting as an advisor to Guggenheim Partners.

The former junk bond king, who pled guilty to securities and reporting violations some two decades ago while at venerable Wall Street firm Drexel Burnham Lambert, received a sentence of 22 months in prison and agreed to pay $47 million in restitution.

Largely now known for his philanthropy and the founding of the Milken Family Foundation, his annual conference routinely attracts names like former President Bill Clinton, the economist Nouriel Roubini and others.

Bloomberg reports that investigators are now reviewing whether Milken, an investor in the $170 billion asset-management firm, has “in effect managed other clients’ money by playing an active advisory role to the firm,” citing a person familiar with the matter.  

The news service notes that Guggenheim gained attention last year after it joined a group that bought the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2.15 billion. The firm in September agreed to buy Dick Clark Productions, which produces “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” and the Golden Globe Awards, along with Mandalay Entertainment and Mosaic Media Investment Partners, according to Bloomberg.

The news service also cites an earlier report in Fortune magazine, which reported the investigation earlier today, as saying the firm has handed over documents including trading records and emails in response to an SEC subpoena. Investigators are reviewing transactions that Milken has done jointly with Guggenheim, Fortune said.

Guggenheim declined to comment for the Bloomberg piece, as did the SEC. However, Geoffrey Moore, a senior advisor to Milken, referred to a statement in the Fortune article, saying Milken “discusses his and his family’s investments with advisors and money managers from time to time, but only as an investor. He has had no desire to be in the securities business in any capacity and has strictly avoided doing anything that could be interpreted otherwise.”

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