The British billionaire Joe Lewis, former owner of Tottenham Hotspur of the Premier Leagueit was declared guilty of insider trading in US federal courtthe prosecutor’s office reported.
Lewis, 86, was accused of providing inside information to his employees, including his private drivers, and his lovers for years, in a “brazen” scheme between 2013 and 2021 that earned him millions of dollars.
Indicted six months ago by the New York justice system, Lewis pleaded not guilty and his lawyer described the accusations as an “atrocious error.”
One of Lewis’ companies has been ordered to pay $50 million in fines following a statement made before a US judge, according to the prosecutor.
Lewis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison, and two counts of securities fraud, which each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
His sentence will be handed down on a date yet to be specified.
“While possessing material non-public information about certain publicly traded companies, I agreed to make recommendations” to three other parties to purchase those shares, Lewis told Judge Jessica Clarke, Bloomberg News reported.
“I knew at that moment that what I was doing was wrong and I am very ashamed,” he added.
The stock tips provided by Lewis included confidential information about upcoming favorable test results for biochemical companies, according to prosecutors.
“On multiple occasions over the course of several years, Lewis used and misappropriated this confidential information to provide stock advice to various people in his life, including his employees, romantic partners, and friends, as a way to provide them with compensation and gifts. “said the US attorney for the Southern District of New York in a statement.
“These individuals, in turn, traded on the advice provided by Lewis for vast personal benefits.”
Prosecutors alleged that in 2019, Lewis loaned his two drivers $500,000 each so they could buy shares in Mirati Therapeutics before the release of clinical results.
One of the drivers allegedly messaged a friend to buy the shares, saying he thought “the boss has inside information.”
Lewis, worth $6.2 billion, according to Forbes, built his reputation as a currency speculator in the 1980s and early 1990s.
His ENIC holding company bought a majority stake in Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in 2001 from then-owner Alan Sugar, another prominent British tycoon, for $22 million.
Lewis officially relinquished control of the club last year, according to British financial records, and his stake was formally transferred to a family trust.