Thu, 05 Oct 2023

British billionaire pleads not guilty to U.S. insider trading

Robert Besser
29 Jul 2023, 20:31 GMT+10

NEW YORK, New York: British billionaire Joe Lewis has pleaded not guilty to what US prosecutors described as a "brazen" insider trading scheme.

Lewis, 86, whose family trust controls a majority of the Tottenham Hotspur football team in England, is alleged to have passed on tips about companies in which he invested to friends, private pilots and a former girlfriend.

He entered his plea this week before US Magistrate Judge Valerie Figueredo in Manhattan federal court.

According to Prosecutor Nicolas Roos, Lewis is to be released on a $300 million bond secured by his yacht and private aircraft.

After being accused of making millions of dollars in illegal profits from Lewis' tips, two of Lewis' pilots, Patrick O'Connor, 66, and Bryan Waugh, 64, also pleaded not guilty to insider trading charges.

Their bail was set at $250,000 each.

In a statement, Lewis's lawyer, David Zornow, said that prosecutors made an "egregious error" by charging his client.

Lewis traveled to the US voluntarily to defend himself against the charges, he added.

For alleged crimes committed from 2013 to 2021, Lewis was charged with 16 counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy. If found guilty, he could face decades in prison.

Prosecutors said Lewis controlled board of director seats at several companies and deputized employees to serve on boards, which gave him access to inside information that he then passed to others.

"None of this was necessary. Joe Lewis is a wealthy man," said Damian Williams, US Attorney in Manhattan.

"When insiders like Lewis take advantage of their access, it erodes public trust and confidence in the fair and efficient operation of our markets," said Gurbir
Grewal, director of the US Security and Exchange Commission's enforcement division.

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