Overview of Charges Against Joe Lewis
The US has criminally charged the prominent British billionaire, Joe Lewis, for masterminding an audacious insider trading scheme. According to the prosecutors, Lewis, who controls a majority of the Tottenham Hotspur football club through his family trust, shared sensitive information about companies he invested in with a closed group of acquaintances, including friends, personal assistants, private pilots, and romantic partners. These individuals then allegedly leveraged this information to make millions of dollars in profits.
Lewis Accused of Corporate Corruption
US Attorney Damian Williams, in a video posted on Tuesday on the X social media platform (formerly known as Twitter), claimed that despite Lewis's wealth, he used insider information either to remunerate his employees or to lavish gifts on friends and partners. "That's classic corporate corruption. It's cheating. And it's against the law," Williams stated.
The Charges Detailed
Lewis, the founder of the investment company Tavistock Group, is facing 16 counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy charges. These alleged crimes stretch back from 2013 to 2021. In response to the charges, Lewis' attorney, David Zornow, sent an email stating, "The government has made an egregious error in judgment in charging Mr. Lewis, an 86-year-old man of impeccable integrity and prodigious accomplishment." He further added that they would vehemently defend Mr. Lewis in court.
Tottenham's Stance on the Issue
A representative for Tottenham maintained that the legal situation is unrelated to the club and hence refrained from commenting. According to Forbes magazine, Lewis' net worth stands at $6.1 billion.
Lewis’s Alleged Exploitation of Inside Information
Prosecutors allege that Lewis abused his privileged access to corporate boardrooms from 2019 to 2021 by sharing crucial nonpublic information about companies such as Mirati Therapeutics, Solid Biosciences, and Australian Agricultural Co. He was also charged with concealing his stake of over 20% in the cancer therapy company, Mirati, by using shell companies and other means, with intent to defraud from 2013 to 2018.
Incidents of Alleged Insider Trading
In certain instances, Lewis is accused of loaning money to the beneficiaries of his tips. One such event took place in October 2019 when he allegedly transferred $1 million to two pilots for buying more Mirati shares. Following favorable results from a clinical trial by Mirati, which led to a 16.7% rise in its stock price, the pilots were able to repay their loans promptly.
Lewis’s Previous Financial Missteps
Lewis is also remembered for acquiring a nearly 10% stake in Bear Stearns in 2007, just before the Wall Street bank narrowly escaped bankruptcy and was sold to JPMorgan Chase at a discount. This misadventure resulted in losses estimated to be over $1 billion.