Michael Milken

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Michael Robert Milken (born July 4, 1946) is an American financier and philanthropist noted for his role in the development of the market for high-yield bonds (also called junk bonds) during the 1970s and 1980s, for his 1990 guilty plea to felony charges for violating US securities laws, and for his funding of medical research.[2]

Milken was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and securities fraud in 1989 as the result of an insider trading investigation. After a plea bargain, he pled guilty to six securities and reporting violations but was never convicted of racketeering or insider trading. Milken was sentenced to ten years in prison and permanently barred from the securities industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission. After the presiding judge reduced his sentence for cooperating with testimony against his former colleagues and good behavior, he was released after less than two years.[3]

His critics cited him as the epitome of Wall Street greed during the 1980s, and nicknamed him the Junk Bond King. Supporters, like George Gilder in his book, Telecosm, note that "Milken was a key source of the organizational changes that have impelled economic growth over the last twenty years. Most striking was the productivity surge in capital, as Milken … and others took the vast sums trapped in old-line businesses and put them back into the markets."

Milken has also been engaged in philanthropic activities since the early 1980s. He is co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, chairman of the Milken Institute, and founder of medical philanthropies funding research into melanoma, cancer and other life-threatening diseases. In a November 2004 cover article, Fortune magazine called him "The Man Who Changed Medicine" for his positive influence on medical research.[4]

With an estimated net worth of around $2 billion as of 2010, he is ranked by Forbes magazine as the 488th richest person in the world.[1]

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