In 1986, the SEC and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York began an investigation into Michael Milken, Drexel Burnham Lambert, and its High Yield and Convertible Bond Department, a department Michael created and was head of. Michael was the most successful and innovative financier of his time. Drexel, an upstart investment bank was also the most successful securities firm on Wall Street, thanks to Michael.
What was the investigation into Michael Milken going to focus on, other than his innovation in the financial markets? Mike was democratizing access to capital for the 99% of companies that could not previously access the public market and created a financial revolution that continues to this day. The high yield bond market grew rapidly from the end of the 1970's from $70 billion to over $2.2 trillion dollars in 2022. He created an industry that gave new businesses and investors the opportunity to create value by financing companies that were too small to access the markets.
Richard Sandler decided to represent Michael as his personal lawyer, and to be responsible for working with the lawyers they hired as well as overseeing the defense. But they could never have dreamed of the chaos that lay ahead.
Neither of them could understand why the government thought it had a compelling reason to investigate Michael. Or why the media would be interested in building the investigation up into a firestorm. Of course, prosecutors want to win in high-profile cases, and prosecutorial witch-hunts and media hype can easily spin out of control, destroying the defendant in search of headlines and publicity as well as personal gain. Whenever the prosecution determines it will have the outcome it wants, no matter what, there is no escape.
But the injustice that Michael Milken faced was to be on a biblical scale. Richard Sandler has, after 36 years, decided to set the record straight. With never-before-seen transcripts of court documents, and a sharp analysis of each move and countermove, Witness to a Prosecution: The Myth of Michael Milken, is difficult to put down. Whether you are someone interested in understanding the criminal investigative process, or you just want to understand who Michael Milken is and what really happened to him, you will find that this is an eye-opening and important book that will be read and discussed for years to come.