Ahead of his visit to the Los Angeles area, President Donald Trump Tuesday pardoned former junk-bond king Michael Milken, founder of the Santa Monica-based Milken Institute.
The financier rose to prominence in the 1980s for his work in the high-yield bond market at the Wall Street bank Drexel Burnham Lambert. He was indicted in 1989 on insider-trading allegations, but ultimately pleaded guilty to various securities violations.
He was initially sentenced to 10 years in prison, but his sentence was later reduced to about two years.
“Lori and I, who recently celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary, along with our children and grandchildren, are very grateful to the president,” the 73-year-old Milken said in a statement in response to the pardon. “We look forward to many more years of pursuing our efforts in medical research, education and public health.”
Since his release from prison, Milken has been a major donor to medical research causes through his founding of the Milken Family Foundation. He also founded the Milken Institute economic think tank, which has offices in Santa Monica, New York, Singapore and Washington, D.C.
Talking to reporters before boarding a flight for Los Angeles, Trump said Milken “paid a big price, paid a very tough price.”
“We have Mike Milken, who’s gone around and done an incredible job for the world, with all of his research on cancer, and he’s done this and he’s suffered greatly,” Trump said.
In a clemency statement, the White House cited Milken’s “innovative work” in the high-yield bond market that enabled “smaller players to access the financing they needed to compete.”
“The charges filed against Mr. Milken were truly novel,” according to the White House statement. “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.”
One of the prosecutors on Milken’s case was Rudy Giuliani, now Trump’s personal attorney.
“Since his release, Mr. Milken has dedicated his life to philanthropy, continuing charitable work that he began before his indictment,” according to the White House. “Over the years, Mr. Milken — either personally or through foundations he created — has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in critical funding to medical research, education and disadvantaged children. Mr. Milken’s philanthropy has been particularly influential in the fight against prostate cancer and has been credited with saving many lives.”
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