British billionaire Joe Lewis—the owner of Premier League soccer club Tottenham Hotspur—has been charged in the U.S. with masterminding an illegal trading plot by abusing his position in C-Suite circles.
Prosecutors accused Lewis on Tuesday of “orchestrating a brazen insider trading scheme” that saw him using inside information to “shower gifts on his friends and lovers”.
Reuters news agency reported that Lewis has been charged with 16 counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy, for alleged crimes that took place between 2013 and 2021.
U.S. attorney Damian Williams said in a video statement shared to X (formerly Twitter) that Lewis had “been indicted and will face justice” in the Southern District of New York (SDNY).
Lewis is accused of exploiting his access to corporate boardrooms to repeatedly pass tips onto romantic partners, personal assistants, private pilots and friends, enabling them to make millions of dollars from the stock market.
“Thanks to Lewis, those bets were a sure thing,” Williams said on Tuesday.
“None of this was necessary. Joe Lewis is a wealthy man,” added Williams, the chief federal law enforcement officer for SDNY. “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.”
David Zornow, Lewis’s attorney, told Fortune in an emailed statement on Wednesday that Lewis had voluntarily traveled to the U.S. to answer the “ill-conceived charges,” which would 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,” he said.
In his statement on Tuesday, Williams said that the law “applies to everyone, no matter who you are.”
Tavistock Group founder
Lewis is worth $6.1 billion, according to Forbes, and is the founder of the Tavistock Group. The private equity firm holds a portfolio of more than 200 assets across 13 countries—including hotels, restaurants and Tottenham Hotspur.
The London-born billionaire lives in the Bahamas, where he reportedly spends the majority of his time on his $145 million superyacht.
North London soccer club Tottenham is one of the U.K.’s biggest teams, with a home stadium that seats more than 60,000 fans.
A spokesperson for Tottenham Hotspur told Fortune on Wednesday that Lewis’s indictment was “a legal matter unconnected with the Club,” and that it therefore had no comment on the situation.
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