Renowned British billionaire Joe Lewis, who holds ownership of the esteemed Tottenham Hotspur soccer team, faces criminal charges in New York, accused of masterminding a brazen insider trading scheme.
Prosecutors assert that Lewis capitalized on his privileged access to corporate boardrooms, clandestinely passing confidential tips about his invested companies to an inner circle, comprising friends, personal assistants, private pilots, and romantic partners. These recipients allegedly profited immensely, amassing millions of dollars from the insider information.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams expressed his thoughts in a video on the X social media platform (previously Twitter), pointing out that Joe Lewis’s substantial wealth rendered such unethical practices unnecessary. Williams contends that Lewis allegedly misused privileged information to reward employees and bestow lavish gifts upon friends and lovers, categorizing it as a classic example of corporate corruption, cheating, and a violation of the law.
At 86 years old, Joe Lewis, the founder of Tavistock Group, an investment firm, faces a formidable legal battle, as he is charged with 16 counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy. The alleged crimes span from 2013 to 2021. Attempts to elicit comments from Tavistock and a spokeswoman went unanswered outside regular business hours.
Forbes magazine estimates Joe Lewis’s net worth at $6.1 billion, further accentuating the significance of these criminal charges against one of Britain’s wealthiest individuals.
The U.S. Attorney’s office, under Williams’ leadership, has long been committed to curbing insider trading, dating back to 2009 when a crackdown on such illicit activities commenced under his predecessor, Preet Bharara.
The charges against Lewis include accusations of passing material nonpublic information about companies like Mirati Therapeutics, Solid Biosciences, and Australian Agricultural Co between 2019 and 2021. Additionally, he is alleged to have conspired from 2013 to 2018 to defraud Mirati, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and investors by employing shell companies and other deceptive tactics to conceal his substantial stake, exceeding 20 percent, in the cancer therapy firm.
Prosecutors divulged that Lewis extended loans to recipients of his insider tips in certain instances. In October 2019, he reportedly wired $1 million to two pilots to enable them to purchase more Mirati shares. The indictment quoted one pilot’s text to a friend, stating, “Boss lent Marty and I $500,000 each for this,” and expressing the belief that Lewis possessed inside information, questioning why else he would encourage their investment. Allegedly, both pilots repaid their loans shortly after Mirati’s announcement of favorable clinical trial results, leading to a significant 16.7 percent surge in the company’s stock price.
Furthermore, Joe Lewis’s past includes his notable acquisition of nearly a 10 percent stake in Bear Stearns in 2007, just before the Wall Street bank narrowly avoided collapse and was acquired by JPMorgan Chase at a considerably reduced price. This investment resulted in estimated losses exceeding $1 billion for Lewis.
As the legal proceedings unfold, Joe Lewis’s case holds the spotlight, shedding light on the serious repercussions of alleged insider trading and corporate misconduct in the financial realm.