Milken, Michael Robert

Milken, Michael Robert mĭlˈkən [key], 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 bonds. 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 trading 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. The Securities and Exchange Commission 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 was a cofounder (1996) and co-owner (until 2015) of Knowledge Universe, an educational and child-care services company. He was pardoned by President Trump in 2020.

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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