Tottenham mogul Lewis spared prison for insider trading

In Sports
April 05, 2024



LONDON:

Billionaire Tottenham Hotspur mogul Joe Lewis has avoided prison in an insider trading case, with a New York judge on Thursday instead giving him three years’ probation and a $5 million fine.

Judge Jessica Clarke also imposed sweeping restrictions on his company Broadbay, calling his offending “undoubtedly serious” but sparing the 87-year-old businessman from time behind bars.

“I’m here today because I made a terrible mistake. I’m ashamed, I’m sorry,” Lewis said in a hushed voice before sentencing, following his guilty plea for supplying insider market information to acquaintances.

He could have faced between 18 and 24 months’ imprisonment for the charges, according to prosecutors.

Lewis, who was visibly emotional at times, cut a frail figure in the courtroom, dressed in a grey suit with an eyepatch over his left eye.

He was flanked by two lawyers who argued he should be spared imprisonment because of his failing health and impending eye surgery.

Lewis pleaded for leniency, describing the trauma of his upbringing at the height of the Second World War, and promising to make amends “with the time I have left.”

Lewis furnished employees, including his private pilots, and lovers with insider information for years in a “brazen” scheme between 2013 and 2021 that raked in millions of dollars.

Stock tips provided by Lewis included confidential information about upcoming favorable test results for biochemical companies, the Manhattan court heard.

The court heard that in 2019 Lewis lent his two pilots $500,000 each so that they could buy Mirati Therapeutics stock before the public release of the clinical results.

One of the pilots allegedly messaged a friend to buy the stock, telling them that he thought “the Boss has inside info.”

Lewis is reported to be one of Britain’s richest men with a fortune that Forbes puts at $6.2 billion, building his reputation as a currency speculator in the 1980s and early 1990s.

His holding company ENIC bought a controlling interest in Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in 2001 from then-owner Alan Sugar, another prominent British tycoon, for $22 million.

Lewis officially ceded control of the club last year, according to British financial records, and his stake was formally handed to a family trust.

He was joined in court by his son and granddaughter, who wrote a letter to the judge pleading for leniency.

Lewis’ lawyer David Zornow told the court the affair had caused the octogenarian “embarrassment and humiliation” and “brought low before the whole world” the former titan of industry.

“The measure of the man is the eight decades before these unfortunate events,” Zornow told a packed court overlooking the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

He pledged that if Lewis was spared prison, he would self-deport to his Bahamas bolthole from where he has managed his sprawling empire of investments in secrecy for years.

Prosecutor Jason Richman said Lewis’ crimes were “offensive to the concept of an open market,” but that his ailing health presented a unique situation.

“He made billions of dollars, then he chose to abuse information. No matter who you are… you cannot trade on inside information.”

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