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Tottenham’s billionaire owner Joe Lewis to plead guilty to securities fraud, says lawyer

Tottenham’s billionaire owner Joe Lewis to plead guilty to securities fraud, says lawyer
British billionaire and Tottenham Hotspur owner Joe Lewis is accused of "classic corporate corruption".
PHOTO: Reuters

NEW YORK – British billionaire Joe Lewis intends to plead guilty to certain US criminal charges after he was charged in 2023 with insider trading, his lawyer said on Jan 24 at a hearing in Manhattan federal court.

Lewis, 86, will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and two counts of securities fraud, David Zornow, a lawyer for Lewis, told US District Judge Jessica Clarke.

Lewis, whose family trust controls a majority of the Tottenham Hotspur football team, was charged in July 2023 with passing inside information on his portfolio companies to two of his private pilots, as well as friends, personal assistants and romantic partners, enabling them, according to prosecutors, to reap millions of dollars of profit.

The pilots, Patrick O’Connor and Bryan Waugh, were also charged. All three men entered not guilty pleas last July.

Lewis founded the investment firm Tavistock Group and is worth US$6.2 billion (S$8.3 billion), according to Forbes. He has been allowed to remain free on a US$300 million bond secured by his yacht, named the Aviva, and private aircraft.

The terms of his bail restrict Lewis from travelling outside the United States, boarding his yacht or travelling in his personal aircraft unless it was to attend a court hearing. Lewis is limited to travelling between New York, Florida and Georgia, where he owns property.

Lewis was charged by federal prosecutors with 16 counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy, for alleged crimes spanning from 2013 to 2021.

Prosecutors have said Lewis gleaned inside information about four companies in which he had invested through his hedge fund and tipped friends and associates between 2019 and 2021.

The companies, according to prosecutors, included Mirati Therapeutics and BCTG Acquisition, a blank cheque company that his hedge fund founded and took Tango Therapeutics public in a merger in 2021.

Lewis hid the size of his holdings in Mirati by investing through a trust and a shell company registered in the name of his granddaughter and an employee, according to prosecutors.

Manhattan US Attorney Damian Williams has called the actions taken by Lewis “classic corporate corruption”. 

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