British billionaire and Tottenham Hotspur owner Joe Lewis has been indicted in New York for “orchestrating a brazen insider trading scheme”.
US attorney Damian Williams said: “Today I’m announcing that my office, the Southern District of New York, has indicted Joe Lewis, a British billionaire, for orchestrating a brazen insider trading scheme.
“We allege that for years Joe Lewis abused his access to corporate boardrooms and repeatedly provided inside information to his romantic partners, his personal assistants, his private pilots and his friends,” he said in a video released by his office.
“Those folks then traded on that inside information and made millions of dollars in the stock market, because thanks to Lewis those bets were a sure thing.
“Now, none of this was necessary. Joe Lewis is a wealthy man. But as we allege he used inside information as a way 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. Laws that apply to everyone, no matter who you are.
“That’s why Joe Lewis has been indicted and will face justice here in the Southern District of New York.”
A lawyer for Mr Lewis, David Zornow, says the businessman has come to the US voluntarily to answer the “ill-conceived” charges, and will be defended “vigorously in court”.
“The government has made an egregious error in judgment in charging Mr Lewis, an 86-year-old man of impeccable integrity and prodigious accomplishment,” Mr Zornow said in an emailed statement.
The 86-year-old is the founder and primary investor of Bahamas-based investment firm Tavistock Group.
He bought a controlling stake in the Premier League club from Lord Sugar in 2001 for £22m.