Billionaire allegedly gave friends, employees and romantic partners information on companies in which he was investorDominic Rushe in New York@dominicruTue 25 Jul 2023 20.28 EDTLast modified on Wed 26 Jul 2023 04.17 EDT
The billionaire owner of Tottenham Hotspur football club was charged with orchestrating “brazen” insider trading by US federal prosecutors on Tuesday.Read more
According to Damian Williams, the US attorney for the southern district of New York, Joe Lewis gave friends, including his personal pilots, assistants and romantic partners, inside information from companies in which he was an investor.
The 86-year-old founder of the Tavistock Group investment firm faces a 19-count indictment with 16 counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy.
“We allege that for years Joe Lewis abused his access to corporate boardrooms and repeatedly provided inside information to his romantic partners, his personal assistants, his private pilots and his friends,” Williams said in a statement on Tuesday.
Statement of U.S. Attorney Damian Williams on U.S. v. Joseph Lewis pic.twitter.com/9rGTTYVx6h
“Those folks then traded on that inside information and made millions of dollars in the stock market, because thanks to Lewis those bets were a sure thing,” he said.
“None of this was necessary, Joe Lewis was a wealthy man,” Williams said in the statement. “But as we allege he used inside information as a way to compensate his employees or shower gifts on his friends and lovers.”
Prosecutors said that in some insider trading cases, Lewis lent money to recipients of his tips, including in October 2019 when he wired $1m to two pilots so they could buy shares in Mirati, a biotech company.
The indictment quoted one pilot texting a friend that “Boss lent Marty and I $500,000 each for this,” and that he thought “the Boss has inside info” because “otherwise why would he make us invest”.
Both pilots allegedly repaid their loans soon after Mirati announced favorable results from a clinical trial, causing its stock price to rise 16.7%. “Loan payback for MRTX,” the second pilot wrote in his records.
Williams charged Lewis with “classic corporate corruption” and said he would face justice in the New York courts.
Lewis was not immediately available for comment. Tottenham Hotspur said on Wednesday: “This is a legal matter unconnected with the club and as such we have no comment.”
According to Bloomberg, Lewis is worth $6.55bn (£5bn). His wealth is tied to Tavistock, a Bahamas-based holding company that controls stakes in more than 200 businesses in 13 countries with investments in real estate, restaurants and resorts.
Lewis, an avid art collector born above a pub in the east end of London, made most of his money from currency trading. He took control of Tottenham in the 1990s.
A club spokesperson said: “This is a legal matter unconnected with the club and as such we have no comment.”
Reuters contributed reporting