Tottenham owner Joe Lewis will appear in court TODAY as he surrenders himself to US authorities in Manhattan after being indicted for ‘brazen’ insider trading
- Tottenham owner Joe Lewis handed himself into US authorities on Wednesday
- Lewis, 86, is accused of passing on information to friends and romantic partners
- Who is Joe Lewis? How did he make his fortune? What is his net worth?
British billionaire and Tottenham Hotspur football team owner Joe Lewis will appear in court today after surrendering himself to US authorities in Manhattan in the wake of his indictment for insider trading.
Mail Sport reported on Tuesday night that federal prosecutors have accused the 86-year-old of slipping confidential stock tips to his romantic partners, private pilots and friends so that they could make millions of dollars.
Lewis exploited his entrée to various corporations to reap lucrative secrets, passed them on to people in his own inner circle and prompted them to trade on the knowledge, prosecutors said.
The billionaire, who owns a $250millionn superyacht on which he sometimes lives, has been charged with 13 counts of securities fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; three counts of securities fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison; and three counts of conspiracy, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
A statement from the US Attorney’s office on Wednesday read: ‘Joe Lewis self-surrendered this morning to federal authorities and is expected to be presented in Manhattan federal district court sometime today on criminal charges.’
Tottenham owner Joe Lewis has handed himself into American authorities on Wednesday
Mail Sport reported on Wednesday that the Premier League are not planning to take action against Tottenham – despite Lewis’ charges – because the reclusive billionaire does not technically own the club.
A conviction for corruption would put Lewis in breach of the Premier League’s owners and directors test, but the 86-year-old is no longer a person of significant control at Tottenham after he transferred his shares to members of the Lewis Family Trust last year.
As such, the top flight’s hands are tied and there is no action that they could take. The prospect of retrospective moves, in the event of a guilty verdict in the US, is also unlikely.
Lewis’ ENIC Group injected over £150million into Tottenham by issuing new shares last summer and his decision to hand over his personal shareholding just four months later suggests he was aware of the New York Department of Justice’s investigation for some time and was seeking to protect the club.
In a complex ownership structure Tottenham are 87 per cent owned by ENIC, of which 30 per cent of those shares belong to chairman Daniel Levy, with the remaining 70 per cent owned by members of the Lewis Family Trust.
Aviva, a luxury yacht belonging to billionaire Tottenham Hotspur owner Joe Lewis, is pictured moored by Butler’s Wharf on July 3, 2018 in London
Pictured: Joe Lewis’s luxury $250mn superyacht in London on July 3, 2018
On Tuesday, in a dramatic statement delivered by video, US Attorney Damian Williams said: ‘My office, the Southern District of New York has indicted Joe Lewis, the British billionaire, for orchestrating a brazen insider trading scheme.
‘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.
‘Those folks then traded on that inside information and made millions of dollars on the stock market because – thanks to Lewis – those bets were a sure thing.’
Williams added: ‘Now, none of this was necessary. Joe Lewis is a wealthy man. But as we allege he used inside information as a way to compensate his employees or shower gifts on his friends and lovers. It is classic corporate corruption.
‘It’s cheating and it’s against the law. That’s why Joe Lewis has been indicted and will face justice here in the Southern District of New York.’
David M. Zornow, an attorney for Lewis, revealed his client had already arrived in the US ‘to answer these ill-conceived charges’ and would fight them vigorously.
‘The government has made an egregious error in judgment in charging Mr. Lewis, an 86-year-old man of impeccable integrity and prodigious accomplishment,’ Zornow said in a statement.
‘Mr Lewis has come to the US voluntarily to answer these ill-conceived charges, and we will defend him vigorously in court.’ The charges include securities fraud and conspiracy.
In a statement released on Wednesday morning, Tottenham said: ‘This is a legal matter unconnected with the club and as such we have no comment.’
With a fortune that Forbes estimates at $6.1 billion, Lewis has investments that span from sport to real estate and energy to agriculture. He bought Tottenham, one of the UK’s most storied soccer clubs, in 2001.
Tottenham played a pre-season friendly in Singapore just hours after the indictment emerged
Lewis’ investment firm Tavistock Group has stakes in more than 200 companies around the world, according to its website, and his art collection boasts works by Picasso, Matisse, Degas and more.
His business connections include Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Justin Timberlake, with whom he built a Bahamian oceanside resort that opened in 2010.
According to the indictment, Lewis’ investments in various companies gave him control of board seats, where he placed associates who let him know what they learned behind the scenes.
Prosecutors say Lewis improperly doled out that confidential information between 2019 and 2021 to his chosen recipients and urged them to profit on it.
The indictment consists of 29 pages. It alleges a pattern of behaviour in which Lewis used his status as investor in a number of companies to give him control of board seats.
At one point, according to the indictment, he even loaned his two private pilots $500,000 apiece to buy stock in a cancer-drug company that he knew had gotten – but not yet publicly disclosed – encouraging results from a clinical trial.
‘Boss is helping us out and told us to get ASAP,’ the pilot texted when advising a friend to buy the stock, too, according to the filing. In later texts telling the friend about the loan, the pilot reasoned that ‘the Boss has inside info’ and ‘knows the outcome.’
‘Otherwise why would he make us invest,’ the pilot added.
Lewis owns Premier League side Tottenham, the club where Daniel Levy (left) is chairman
Lewis is also alleged to have given the tip to a variety of others, including a friend with whom he had a romance, a poker associate, his girlfriend and a personal assistant.
Lewis also gave the tip to his girlfriend, his personal assistant, a poker buddy and a friend with whom he had a romance, the indictment said.
After the company announced the clinical trial data, the stock gained nearly 17% in a day, and Lewis’ friends and employees all eventually sold at a profit. The pilots repaid the loans, at Lewis’ request, according to the indictment.
Another time, according to the filing, Lewis gleaned some closed-door information about a muscular dystrophy drug company in which he was a major investor. The information allegedly included a planned financial move and some clinical trial news.
Lewis’ biotech hedge fund signed a confidentiality agreement that prohibited disclosing the information or trading on it. But, the indictment said, he told his girlfriend to buy the company’s stock, then told the pilots the same as they flew the couple to Massachusetts from Seoul, where the two had been staying in the swanky Four Seasons Hotel.
The stock price shot up after the clinical trial results and the financial move were announced, and the girlfriend more than doubled her money, netting about $850,000, according to the indictment.
Yet another stock tip concerned a third pharmaceutical company, which Lewis was negotiating to acquire, the indictment said. It said Lewis advised his pilots and two personal assistants, who were working on his 98-meter (322-foot) mega-yacht, to buy in. And they did, before the merger plan became public and bumped up the stock price.
On still another occasion, the indictment said, Lewis learned through a hand-picked board member that an Australian agricultural firm was bracing for significant losses from a monsoon flood. He quickly urged the pilots to sell, according to the indictment, but their broker wasn’t able to dump the shares before the company went public with the news.
Under his ownership, Tottenham have built a state-of-the-art stadium that cost £1billion
‘Just wish the Boss would have given us a little earlier heads up,’ one of the pilots lamented to the broker by email.
The indictment doesn’t mention Tottenham, one of Lewis’ most visible investments.
Under his ownership, the Premier League club has built a state-of-the-art stadium at an estimated cost of more than $1 billion. It features an NFL field below the moveable soccer pitch, as Tottenham has a long-term agreement with the NFL to stage regular-season games in London.
The club’s most celebrated current player is England captain Harry Kane, though he will become a free agent at the end of the season.
But the London team, founded in 1882 and nicknamed Spurs – after its full name, Tottenham Hotspur – has found trophies hard to come by. Its last piece of silverware was the English League Cup in 2008, although it did advance to the Champions League final – European club soccer’s most prestigious tournament – in 2019. Liverpool won.
Fans have become increasingly frustrated by Spurs’ lack of success and high coach turnover. Much of the anger has been directed at club chairman Daniel Levy.
Spurs also was among teams involved in 2021 in the aborted plan for a European Super League, which prompted widespread protests from supporters.
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