News that outspoken billionaire and activist investor Carl Icahnwas named as a “special advisor” to President-elect Donald Trump onregulatory reform sparked immediate criticism from the left.

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Related: Trump admin has to signal soon if itintends to undo fiduciary rule

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Icahn, an early supporter of Trump and an outspoken critic ofthe regulatory policies of the Obama administration, was tapped toadvise on rolling back the “strangling regulations our country isfaced with,” said Trump in a statement before the holidays.

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Critics of Mr. Trump pounced on the news, alleging Icahn’s rolewill create more conflicts of interests for the Trumpadministration.

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Related: NAFA's emergency motion to delay fiduciaryrule denied

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The controlling shares of an oil refinery, CVR Energy Inc., areheld by Icahn Enterprises. Icahn has publically railed against theEnvironmental Protection Agency under the Obama Administration,specifically a regulation that requires wider use of ethanol andother biofuels that will reportedly cost CVR hundreds of millionsin compliance costs.

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In August, Icahn wrote the head administrators of the EPA,saying the regulation will bankrupt smaller refineries likeCVR.

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According to reporting in the Wall Street Journal, Icahn wasactive in vetting candidates to run Trump’s EPA even before hisappointment as special advisor.

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He is also reportedly helping the Trump transition team vet thenext Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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‘Mafia has a better code of ethics than you guys’

On the matter of the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, Icahn,like the Trump transition team, has offered no specificopinion.

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But independent of the rule, he has been known to strike apopulist chord in his criticism of Wall Street and corporateAmerica.

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A long-time critic of lax corporate governance, and morerecently, the high-yield corporate bond market, Icahn has beenissuing warnings for several years on the potential fallout forwhat he says is a bubble in corporate bonds.

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Chronically low interest rates have inflated the market asintuitional and retail fixed income investors have chased yieldwith corporate bonds. A lack of transparency in the market, and thelack of liquidity on the part of management firms that package theinvestments in exchange-traded funds, will leave investors holdingthe bag if interest rates rise and investors rush to sell corporatebonds, says Icahn.

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In a 15-minute video produced in 2015 and featured on thehomepage of Carlichan.com, he claims wealth managers are sellinginvestors products they don’t understand.

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“Wall Street does what Wall Street does best--it sellssecurities. People are buying these not really understanding whatthey are buying,” says Icahn in the video.

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“I used to say, you know the mafia has a better code of ethicsthan you guys,” says Icahn, referencing personal conversations withbond brokers. “You know you’re selling this crap and you keepselling it. And in fact your are shorting some of this.”

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Trump ‘believes what he believes’ on Labor’s fiduciaryrule

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Does Icahn’s tough talk on conflicted investment advicetranslate as support for Labor’s fiduciary rule?

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In spite of being roundly critical of the Obama administration’soverall regulatory initiatives, Icahn has said that he is notagainst all regulation. But he has yet to weigh in on Labor’s ruleduring recent media appearances.

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While the rule’s proponents may view his thoughts on WallStreet’s conflicts as favorable for the rule’s survival, Icahn’scriticism of the role that he says ETFs and management firms haveplayed in inflating the corporate debt market could just as easilygive ballast to the rule’s opponents.

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The fiduciary rule is expected to be a boon for ETFs and otherpassively managed mutual funds, as advisors move more long-terminvestors into lower cost investments in order to avoid theappearance of conflicted advice. Icahn recently told CNBC that toomuch money is “dammed up” in ETFs.

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In the same interview, Icahn insisted he will not be creatingpolicy, but will simply have the ear of President-elect Trump.

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“Donald is an extremely intelligent guy and he’s his own man,”he said, referring to the limits of his advisory role.

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At a conference for registered investment advisors in December,keynote speaker Kellyanne Conway, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager,said the President-elect “believes what he believes” on thefiduciary rule, according to reporting on advisorhub.com. Conway’scomments were made before she was named as a counselor to Trump,and before Icahn was tapped to advise on regulations.

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The reporting on advisorhub.com implies Mr. Trump’s position onthe rule may not be as obstructionist as another of his transitionteam’ advisors, Anthony Scaramucci, founder of hedge fund SkyBridgeCapital.

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Scaramucci is an outspoken critic of the rule. Shortly afterNovember’s election, he vowed the Trump administration would blockthe rule, but later walked those comments back.

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Nick Thornton

Nick Thornton is a financial writer covering retirement and health care issues for BenefitsPRO and ALM Media. He greatly enjoys learning from the vast minds in the legal, academic, advisory and money management communities when covering the retirement space. He's also written on international marketing trends, financial institution risk management, defense and energy issues, the restaurant industry in New York City, surfing, cigars, rum, travel, and fishing. When not writing, he's pushing into some land or water.