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Former Spurs owner Joe Lewis pleads guilty in US insider trading case

The billionaire former owner of Tottenham Hotspur, Joe Lewis, has pleaded guilty in an insider trading case in the US, prosecutors have confirmed.

Lewis, 86, pleaded guilty in front of US District Judge Jessica Clarke on Wednesday to charges alleging he had committed securities fraud and conspired to commit securities fraud by insider trading.

“Today’s guilty pleas once again confirm – as I said in announcing the charges against Joseph Lewis just six months ago – the law applies to everyone, no matter who you are or how much wealth you have,” said US Attorney Damian Williams.

Tottenham Founder Insider Trading
Joe Lewis, owner of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, arrives at Manhattan federal court (Yuki Iwamura/AP)

“Billionaire Lewis abused inside information he gained through his access to corporate boardrooms to tip off his friends, employees and romantic interests.

“Now, he will pay the price with a federal conviction, the prospect of time in prison and the largest financial penalty for insider trading in a decade.”

Separately, Broad Bay Ltd, a company which is owned by Lewis, pleaded guilty and accepted its participation in hiding the billionaire’s stake in a pharmaceutical company. It will pay more than 50 million dollars (£39 million) in financial penalties.

Joe Lewis (left) in the stands with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy
Joe Lewis (left) in the stands with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy (PA)

Lewis’s lawyer David Zornow said that his client still has the right to appeal if he is sentenced to time in prison, according to Reuters.

The billionaire had in July denied the 16 charges of securities fraud and three charges of conspiracy that he was faced with. He will be sentenced on March 28.

According to prosecutors, he allegedly orchestrated “a brazen insider trading scheme” and passed secrets to romantic partners, personal assistants, friends and two co-conspirators.

Joe Lewis leaves the court behind an umbrella
Joe Lewis leaves the court behind an umbrella (Yuki Iwamura/AP)

The information allowed them to bet on companies which he had invested in, using information only those with access to the business could have known. It helped them earn millions of dollars, the case claimed.

Lewis built his wealth through the investment company, Tavistock Group, and bought a controlling stake in Tottenham Hotspur in 2001.

In 2022 he ceded control of the club and formally handed his stake to a family trust and has no day-to-day involvement with the club. Spurs declined to comment.

He was worth more than £5 billion according to the 2023 Sunday Times Rich List, being ranked as the 39th richest person in the country.

A spokesperson for Lewis said: “Today, Joe Lewis acknowledged his conduct in connection with a number of stock trades by individuals close to him.

“Mr Lewis did not engage in improper trading in his own accounts. His conduct should be viewed in the context of Mr Lewis’s long life of accomplishment and integrity.

“Soon to be 87, Mr Lewis is deeply sorry, embarrassed, and apologises to the court, his family and all those who have come to rely on him.”