Jim Benjamin Discusses Mickelson Insider Trading Probe with Golf Digest

Jim Benjamin, head of Akin Gump’s securities enforcement and litigation practice, spoke with Golf Digest about the reported insider trading probe of golfer Phil Mickelson. Benjamin was asked several questions about the purported investigation. Some of those questions and his responses are included here:

  • Why would the FBI and SEC go public about an investigation like this? “I haven’t seen the FBI or SEC identified as the source of these leaks, and I’d be surprised if they were. That would be contrary to their rules, and leaks also tend to undermine an investigation.”
  • Members of Congress can do this, so why can’t Phil? “That’s actually not true – if it ever was. . .[In 2012,] Congress passed a law that specifically says insider-trading rules apply to members of Congress and other government officials.” 
  • The definition of illegal insider trading is vague. How can people be expected to follow the law? “That’s a good question. The definition of insider trading is not written down in one place. . . For criminal insider trading, which is pursued by the FBI, one requirement is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the person knew he or she was doing something wrong. The SEC pursues civil cases. It also has a requirement of intent, but it’s a little easier to satisfy.”

“Phil will beat this” or “Phil is going to jail for sure.” “Anybody who thinks they can make a prediction based on a newspaper article is way off base. . . it’s not clear who is actually under investigation, what the evidence is, or what the government’s legal theories might be. . . To make any predictions now, based on a newspaper report, is just completely speculative.”