Yesterday, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) filed an official complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), urging it to investigate possible insider trading by Carl Icahn, former advisor to President Trump, and any related impropriety by any responsible parties in or out of government. Our complaint asks the SEC to determine whether Icahn knew non-public, market-moving information in advance, acted on it, and profited.
POGO’s complaint follows reports that Icahn sold his stock in Manitowoc Company, a crane manufacturer whose product is “heavily dependent on steel,” days before President Trump called for new steel tariffs. Icahn sold the stock for $31.3 million.
Icahn had not traded any shares of Manitowoc for three years, but just days before the Commerce Department released a report recommending a global tariff of at least 24 percent on steel imports, Icahn sold over 160,000 shares of Manitowoc. He sold off even more of his Manitowoc stocks just a week before President Trump announced a 25 percent tariff. Manitowoc’s stock fell 6 percent after the tariffs were announced on March 1.
“The SEC must fully investigate the circumstances of Icahn’s trade activity with Manitowoc,” said POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian. “Insider trading is a serious offense, and Icahn’s case has special interest to the public because of his direct, personal relationship with President Trump. The SEC has the power and the obligation to investigate these allegations and to hold any responsible parties accountable, whether they are inside or outside the government.”
Icahn had acted as a special advisor on regulatory reform to President Trump from December 21, 2016, until August 18, 2017. His time as an advisor was marked with concern from many sides—including an official complaint from POGO—that his prominence as an investor, paired with his exemption from federal ethics laws since he was not classified as a special government employee, created heightened conflict of interest risks and could lead to undue industry influence over policy.