A group of eight Democratic senators on Tuesday called upon three federal departments to investigate whether billionaire investor — and adviser to President Donald Trump — Carl Icahn violated insider trading laws for his activity in the renewable fuel credits market.
Every batch of biofuel produced in the United States is assigned an identification number to track whether fuel producers are meeting government mandates. Producers with a surplus of renewable fuel identification numbers, or RINs, can trade them as credit on the open market.
According to the senators, Icahn made a massive bet in 2016 that the price of renewable fuel credits would drop. Then, as an unpaid adviser to the president, he allegedly recommended policies that contributed to the price of credits dropping.
As a result, Icahn earned a $50 million turnaround, the senators claimed, citing reporting from Reuters.
“These actions, and the massive profit earned by Mr. Icahn, raise clear questions about whether he may have violated conflict-of-interest rules that apply to government officials,” the senators said in a letter. “These questions are best addressed by the Office of White House Counsel, the Office of Government Ethics, and the department of Justice.”
The letter was signed by Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Tom Carper of Delaware, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
It was sent to the Commodities Trading Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“We have no way of knowing at this time whether Mr. Icahn made any of his renewable fuel credit trades or decisions about trades based on material, non-public information or otherwise manipulated the market,” the senators said. “But the publicly available evidence is troubling, and based on this evidence, we ask that your agencies investigate whether Mr. Icahn’s conduct violated any laws under your jurisdiction.”
The group of senators called for an update into the matter no later than June 9.
They also asked for the recusals of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and SEC Chairman Jay Clayton during any potential investigation.
Trump named Icahn a special adviser in December.