Icahn Subpoenaed

US Attorney Wants Information on Energy Investor's Involvement With RFS

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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Energy billionaire Carl Icahn has been subpoenaed for his involvement with the Renewable Fuel Standard as an adviser to President Donald Trump. (DTN file photo)

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- Though no longer an adviser to President Donald Trump, billionaire energy investor Carl Icahn may now be the subject of a federal investigation related to his involvement with the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York has subpoenaed Icahn's company, Icahn Enterprises LP, for information on Icahn's work with the president on the RFS, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission on Nov. 3.

"The U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York recently contacted Icahn Enterprises L.P. seeking production of information pertaining to our and Mr. Icahn's activities relating to the Renewable Fuels Standard and Mr. Icahn's role as an adviser to the president," the SEC filing said.

"We are cooperating with the request and are providing information in response to the subpoena. The U.S. Attorney's office has not made any claims or allegations against us or Mr. Icahn. We maintain a strong compliance program and, while no assurances can be made, we do not believe this inquiry will have a material impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows."

Another SEC filing by Icahn's CVR Refining said the company also is replying to a subpoena related to Icahn. Trump selected Icahn as a special adviser on regulatory reform issues on Dec. 21, 2016.

Back in February 2017, a report surfaced that the president was about to sign an executive order to move the RFS point of obligation from refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel to ethanol blenders, based on Icahn's advice. Such an executive order was never signed. To change the point of obligation would require a rewrite of the regulation to include a public comment period.

In addition, Bloomberg reported that Icahn's majority stake in CVR Energy grew by about $491 million between Nov. 8 and Aug. 2.

In response to an information request by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., in September, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said in letter that the agency found no contacts between Icahn and EPA staff and political appointees.

In recent months, Icahn announced he was no longer serving as an adviser to Trump. Pruitt later confirmed the agency is not considering a change in the point of obligation.

Groups that support the switch in the point of obligation claim obligating blenders would spread compliance costs through the renewable identification numbers, or RINs, market. That market is designed to allow obligated parties to show compliance with the law by buying either physical gallons or the credits attached to actual gallons produced.

In May, a group of eight Democratic members of Congress, led by Whitehouse, wrote to the heads of the EPA, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, calling for investigations into Icahn. The senators raised concerns that Icahn's companies made about $50 million in profits from selling biofuel credits, alleging Icahn's political connections to Trump's administration resulted in a windfall for some of Icahn's companies.

In the letter, the senators said Icahn made a bet in 2016 that the price of RINs would drop.

"He then, as an unpaid adviser to President Trump, recommended personnel and policies that did in fact cause the price of these credits to drop," the senators said.

The senators stated, "The net result was an 'impossible' 'rare profit' on the credits, 'a $50 million turnaround' from Mr. Icahn's initial investment. 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."

CVR Energy and Icahn Enterprises LP had not responded to DTN requests for comment at the time this article was posted. Carl Icahn did not immediately respond to a phone message left by DTN.

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

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Todd Neeley