British billionaire Joe Lewis, whose family trust owns the Tottenham Hotspur soccer club, pleaded guilty to insider trading and conspiracy charges in New York on Wednesday.
Lewis admitted that sharing nonpublic information about publicly traded companies was wrong and that his crimes have left him “so embarrassed.”
The 86-year-old businessman pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court, six months following his indictment in the case. He had been released on a $300 million (275 million euros) bail, using his yacht and private plane as security.
He told judges that he agreed in 2019 to share secrets he knew about publicly traded companies with two other people who bought stock in those companies. Lewis also confessed to sharing insider tips with another person in July and September of the same year, leading to stock purchases in the involved companies by that individual.
“I knew that I was violating a legal duty not to make those recommendations because the nonpublic information had been entrusted to me in confidence,” he said. “I knew at the time what I was doing was wrong, and I am so embarrassed and I apologize to the court for my conduct.”
Lewis remained silent as he left court, and was shielded from photographers by his aides, a lawyer and an umbrella.
A guilty plea was also entered for Broad Bay Limited, which Lewis owns. According to the prosecutor's statement, both Lewis and his company will pay over $50 million in fines. It added Lewis abused inside information he gathered from corporate boardrooms to tip off his friends, employees and romantic interests.
Federal sentencing guidelines call for a prison sentence of between 18 and 24 months, though Lewis can seek less than that. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 28.
As part of the guilty plea, Lewis and Broad Bay Limited have agreed that Lewis and his companies will resign and surrender control over board seats and participation in board meetings for any corporation publicly traded in the United States. They also agreed to quit ownership of certain investments over the five-year period of probation and to cooperate with the U.S. government’s ongoing investigation and prosecution.
Lewis, whose wealth is estimated by Forbes at $6.1 billion (approximately €5.6 billion), has diversified investments including real estate, biotechnology, energy, agriculture, and others. In 2001, he acquired a stake in Tottenham Hotspur, a renowned football club in England.
Under his ownership, the Premier League club built a state-of-the-art stadium at an estimated cost of more than $1 billion.