President Donald Trump has pardoned “junk bond king” Michael Milken, who was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1990 after pleading guilty to six charges of criminal violation of securities laws.
Milken, who worked as a senior executive at Drexel Burnham Lambert – the junk-bond firm driven to bankruptcy by its illegal trading activities — ended up serving just two of those ten years. He also paid a $600 million fine and another $500 million to Drexel investors.
“Several media have asked if Mike has plans to return to the securities industry,” a spokesperson for Milken said via email. “Today, that is the farthest thing from his mind. He’s fully dedicated to continuing his lifelong crusade to cure cancer and other life-threatening diseases.”
A statement published on the White House’s website called Milken “one of America’s greatest financiers,” noting that he helped “smaller players to access the financing they needed to compete.”
The White House statement called the charges against Milken – of which there were originally 98 — “truly novel.”
“In fact, one of the lead prosecutors later admitted that Mr. Milken had been charged with numerous technical offenses and regulatory violations that had never before been charged as crimes,” the statement said.
[II Deep Dive: The Michael Milken Project]
Since serving jail time, Milken has focused on philanthropy. He runs the Milken Family Foundation, as well as the Milken Institute, which, according to a statement provided by Milken’s spokesperson via email, is working to “increase global prosperity by advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs ,and improve health.”
Milken, who is a survivor of prostate cancer, also created the Prostate Cancer Foundation, which he now chairs.
“Lori and I, who recently celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary, along with our children and grandchildren, are very grateful to the President,” Milken said in a statement Tuesday. “We look forward to many more years of pursuing our efforts in medical research, education, and public health.”
According to the White House statement, the pardon was supported by individuals including financial news icon Maria Bartiromo, Trian Fund Management founding partner Nelson Peltz, Carlyle Group co-founder and co-executive chairman David Rubenstein, and GoldenTree Asset Management founding partner and CIO Steven Tananbaum.