Tottenham owner Joe Lewis charged with insider trading in US

Lewis faces 16 counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy for alleged crimes between 2013 and 2021.

Joe Lewis
Joe Lewis has pleaded not guilty to the charges in the United States [File: Phelan M Ebenhack/AP Photo]

Joe Lewis, the owner of the Tottenham Hotspur football team, has been charged with insider trading by United States prosecutors who allege the billionaire shared stock tips with employees, friends and romantic partners.

Lewis faces 16 counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy for alleged crimes carried out between 2013 and 2021.

The 86-year-old British mogul entered a not guilty plea before US Magistrate Judge Valerie Figueredo in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday.

He was released on bail after the hearing, an official with the Justice Department’s Southern District of New York confirmed to the AFP news agency.

Damian Williams, US attorney for the Southern District of New York, earlier said Lewis had provided inside information to people close to him for years in a “brazen” scheme worth millions of dollars.

“None of this was necessary. Joe Lewis is a wealthy man,” Williams said in a video posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

“But as we allege he used inside information as a way to compensate his employees or shower gifts on his friends and lovers. That’s classic corporate corruption. It’s cheating. And it’s against the law.”

Prosecutors allege Lewis passed on non-public information about companies including Mirati Therapeutics and Solid Biosciences and in some cases lent money to recipients of his tips.

Lewis’s lawyer David Zornow said the government had made an “egregious error” in charging his client, whom he described as a man of  “impeccable integrity and prodigious accomplishment”.

“Mr Lewis has come to the US voluntarily to answer these ill-conceived charges, and we will defend him vigorously in court,” Zornow said.

Lewis, who Forbes estimates is worth $6.1bn, has investments spanning sectors including real estate, energy, agriculture and sport.

Lewis’ Tavistock Group has stakes in more than 200 companies in 15 countries, according to its website. His holding company ENIC bought a controlling stake in the English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in 2001.

Lewis, who is based in the Bahamas, is also known for his business connections with an array of household names, including Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Justin Timberlake, with whom he developed a Bahamian oceanside resort that opened in 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies