FBI File: Whole Foods
In May 2018, I filed a FOIA request with the FBI for its investigative file on Whole Foods Market. Specifically, I asked for investigations into Whole Foods (as opposed to investigations of any threats made against the company) from its founding in 1980 to the present.
I recently received the above file, which contains 29 pages involving one case. In 2007 it was revealed that Whole Foods’ co-founder John Mackey — who was also chairman and CEO for many years — had been secretly posting to the Yahoo Finance Stock Forum about his company from 1999 to 2006.
The US Attorneys Office (USAO) for the Southern District of New York asked the FBI to open a case to see if Mackey’s postings violated laws against disclosure of nonpublic corporate information, stock manipulation, etc. The SEC also launched an investigation, and the FBI and USAO let them take the lead. When the SEC closed the case and recommended no action be taken, the USAO declined to pursue charges and had the FBI close its case.
While the existence of an SEC probe of Mackey was widely reported, as far as I can tell the USAO’s interest and the FBI’s case have not been public knowledge until now. Also, the FBI file indicates that Mackey was called before the SEC “to testify to his trades,” a detail that also seems to be unreported.