British Billionaire Faces Sentencing in March; Apologizes for Wrongdoing
In a surprising turn of events, British billionaire Joe Lewis, whose family trust controls a majority of the renowned football club Tottenham Hotspur, has pleaded guilty to U.S. insider trading charges. The 86-year-old businessman acknowledged his involvement in a scheme that prosecutors claim was aimed at benefiting his friends and associates. The guilty plea includes one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and two counts of securities fraud, marking a significant legal development in a case that emerged in July 2023.
Lewis, who is estimated to be worth $6.2 billion according to Forbes, was accused of passing inside information on his portfolio companies to private pilots, friends, personal assistants, and romantic partners. This alleged misconduct enabled them to gain millions of dollars in profits. The charges encompassed 16 counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy, covering a period from 2013 to 2021.
Addressing U.S. District Judge Jessica Clarke, Lewis expressed remorse, stating, “I am so embarrassed, and I apologize to the court for my conduct.” Lewis’s guilty plea is part of an agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, allowing him the right to appeal in case of a prison sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for March 28.
Alongside Lewis, the two private pilots, Patrick O’Connor and Bryan Waugh, were also charged. They, too, had pleaded not guilty in July. Broad Bay Ltd, a Bahamian entity owned by Lewis, which prosecutors alleged helped him conceal his ownership of Mirati Therapeutics shares, entered a guilty plea and agreed to pay a $50 million fine. As part of the plea deal, Broad Bay will undergo five years of probation, and Lewis and his companies will resign seats they control on the boards of U.S. companies.
Lewis, who began his business journey by taking over a pub owned by his father in east London, has been a prominent figure in the business world. He founded the investment firm Tavistock Group and currently resides in the Bahamas. Despite being free on a $300 million bond secured by his yacht, the Aviva, and private aircraft, Lewis faces travel restrictions within the United States.
Tottenham Hotspur, owned by ENIC since 2001, has seen changes in leadership, with Lewis being removed as “a person with significant control” in October 2022. The club’s operations are now overseen by chairman Daniel Levy.
Lewis’s sentencing is set for March 28, coinciding with FTX cryptocurrency exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s sentencing on charges of stealing billions from customers. The legal proceedings shed light on the interconnected world of finance, sports, and high-profile individuals, raising questions about the implications for both Lewis and Tottenham Hotspur.