Tottenham Hotspur majority owner Joe Lewis has been charged by US Attorney Damian Williams for alleged insider trading ‘as a way to compensate his employees’.
Williams announced the charges against Lewis last night via the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Twitter account, alleging that Spurs owner conducted an ‘brazen’ insider trading scheme which made ‘millions’ on the stock market.
He stated: “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.
“Those folks then traded on that inside information and made millions of dollars on 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 shower gifts on his friends and lovers. It is classic corporate corruption.
“It’s cheating and it’s against the law. That’s why Joe Lewis has been indicted and will face justice here in the Southern District of New York.”
Lewis, who bought a controlling stake in Spurs in 2001 and is worth a reported £4.65bn by Forbes, is now facing 13 counts of fraud which could result in a 25-year maximum prison sentence if found guilty.
Of the 13 counts, Lewis is charged on three counts of securities fraud, three counts of conspiracy, as well as allegedly loaning money to people who is believed to have tipped off.
A Tottenham Hotspur statement read: “This is a legal matter unconnected with the club and as such we have no comment.”
The SDNY filing further reveals Lewis exerted a pattern of behaviour that used his status to control members of the board and seats at various companies, thus allegedly allowing him to place individuals on those boards who he gave inside information too between 2019 and 2021.
Furthermore, Lewis loaned $500,000 to two private companies to invest stock into pharmaceutical companies which were not made public but knew of its impending positive results, according to the indictment.
David M. Zornow, Lewis’ Lawyer, reacted to the indictment stating: “The government has made an egregious error in judgement in charging Mr Lewis, an 86-year-old 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.”
The charges that Lewis faces could bring copious uncertainty to the future ownership of Tottenham, though the Premier League is yet to comment on the matter.
As per Section F1.8 of the Premier League handbook, which details the league’s owners and directors test, individuals can be disqualified from being an owner or director of a club if they have breached the ruling.
The league handbook states: “(Any owner who) have a Conviction imposed by a court of the United Kingdom or a competent court of foreign jurisdiction in respect of any offence involving any act which could reasonably be considered…to constitute fraud of any kind, including by way of example and without limitation, tax fraud, tax evasion, identity theft, electoral fraud, bribery, online fraud, money laundering and benefit fraud.”