Milken, Michael Robert

Milken, Michael Robert

(mĭl`kən), 1946–, American financial executive, b. Van Nuys, Calif. Nicknamed the "junk bond king," he was an executive at Drexel Burnham Lambert, Inc., where he transformed corporate takeovers and financing by the use of high-yield junk bondsjunk bond,
a bond that involves greater than usual risk as an investment and pays a relatively high rate of interest, typically issued by a company lacking an established earnings history or having a questionable credit history.
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. At the height of his success in the 1980s, Milken's personal wealth was legend; according to the government, Drexel paid Milken $296 million in 1986 and $550 million in 1987. In 1989 a federal grand jury indicted Milken for violations of federal securities and racketeering laws. He pled guilty to securities fraud and related charges in 1990, and the government dropped the more serious charges of insider tradinginsider trading,
stock market transactions made with knowledge of nonpublic information about corporate activity. In the United States, it has been illegal since 1934. The Securities and Exchange Commission regards it as unfair to investors who are not privy to such information.
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 and racketeering. Milken was fined and sentenced to prison for ten years; in 1991 his sentence was reduced to two years plus three years probation. Barred from the securities business for life, Milken worked as a strategic business consultant after his release from prison. The Securities and Exchange CommissionSecurities and Exchange Commission
(SEC), agency of the U.S. government created by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and charged with protecting the interests of the public and investors in connection with the public issuance and sale of corporate securities.
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 charged that this work was a violation of his probation, and in 1998 Milken settled with the SEC and paid the government $42 million in fees that he had earned plus interest. Milken, who had prostate cancer, established (1993) a foundation to underwrite a search for its cure; he is also a founder (1996) of Knowledge Universe, an educational services company.

Bibliography

See studies by C. Bruck (upd. ed. 1989), F. Bailey (1992), J. Kornbluth (1992), B. J. Stein (1992), M. Zey (1993), and D. Fischel (1995).

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