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Icahn leaves post as Trump adviser on deregulation

© AFP/File | Carl Icahn, seen here in 1990 alongside Donald Trump, has stepped down as special regulatory adviser to the US president

WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said Friday he is leaving his post as special adviser to President Donald Trump on regulatory issues.

In announcing his departure, Icahn avoided any mention of last weekend's white supremacist rally in Virginia and Trump's claim that anti-racism counter protesters were equally to blame for deadly violence that broke out during the gathering.

Those remarks led many CEOs to resign from White House advisory panels. In the end Trump simply dissolved two of them altogether.

Icahn, 81, explained instead that the Senate has now confirmed someone, Neomi Rao, as an official regulatory czar and that he does not want controversy over his own position to harm Trump or get in Rao's way.

Icahn is one of the most influential financiers on Wall Street.

He was named in December as a special adviser with a task the administration described as getting rid of regulations that killed jobs and hindered economic growth.

Icahn's appointment was criticized by Democrats who said they suspected that, in his White House role, he would push causes in which he had an interest, such as weakening environmental controls that apply to oil refineries.

Icahn has significant investments in the energy sector, including the Texas oil refiner CVR Energy, which suffered heavily in recent years as energy prices declined but could stand to gain from an anti-regulation agenda.

"Contrary to the insinuations of a handful of your Democratic critics, I never had access to nonpublic information or profited from my position, nor do I believe that my role presented conflicts of interest," Icahn said in a statement.

"Nevertheless, I chose to end this arrangement (with your blessing) because I did not want partisan bickering about my role to in any way cloud your administration or Ms. Rao's important work," Icahn added.

Icahn was not a member of either of the advisory panels that Trump disbanded.

© 2017 AFP