The British billionaire Joe Lewis, whose family owns Tottenham Hotspur, has pleaded not guilty in New York after being indicted for orchestrating a “brazen” insider trading scheme.
In a video posted online, prosecutor Damian Williams said: “Today I’m announcing that 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 access to corporate board rooms and repeatedly provided inside information to his romantic partners, his personal assistants, his pilots and his friends.
“Those folks then traded on that inside information and made millions of dollars on the stock market. Thanks to Lewis those bets were a sure thing.
“None of this was necessary. Joe Lewis is a wealthy man, but as we allege he used insider information to compensate his employees, or to shower gifts on his friends and lovers.
“That’s classic corporate corruption. It’s cheating and it’s against the law.”
Lewis entered his not guilty plea on Wednesday before magistrate judge Valerie Figueredo in Manhattan.
He ceased to be a “person with significant control” of Tottenham last year after the club said there had been a “reorganisation of the Lewis Family Trusts”.
However, this took place after his alleged offences were committed.
The indictment also accuses him of “false disclosure of his ownership” and using shell companies and trusts purportedly for the benefit of family members to give him access to company information.
Mr Lewis’s lawyer, David Zornow, said the government had “made an egregious error in judgment in charging Mr Lewis, an 86-year-old man of impeccable integrity and prodigious accomplishment”.
He added that Mr Lewis had come to the US voluntarily to answer the “ill-conceived” charges which would be “defended vigorously in court”.
A spokesperson for Tottenham Hotspur said the indictment is “a legal matter unconnected with the club and as such we have no comment.”
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Joe Lewis owns the Tavistock Group, with more than 200 assets across 13 countries, and the UK pub operator Mitchells & Butlers. Forbes puts his wealth at £4.65bn.
He bought a controlling stake in the premier league club from Alan Sugar for £22m in 2001.
He now lives in the Bahamas, a far cry from his humble beginnings in London’s East End.
Joe Lewis was born to a Jewish family above a pub in Roman Road, Bow. He left school at 15 to help run his father’s West End catering business, Tavistock Banqueting. He sold the business in 1979, forming the basis of his initial fortune, before moving into currency trading.
In 1992, he allegedly teamed up with American billionaire George Soros to bet on the pound crashing out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (EERM).
Black Wednesday, as it became known, sank sterling and forced the British government to withdraw the pound from the EERM.
Written by: Newsroom