British Billionaire Joe Lewis, who controls Tottenham Hotspur soccer club, appeared in a New York court to face charges that he gave lucrative, and illegal, trading tips to staff on his superyacht, private jet pilots and girlfriends.
The 86-year-old entered a not guilty plea to insider trading charges at a hearing Wednesday afternoon, hours after he turned himself in to U.S. authorities. Two of his pilots also pleaded not guilty at the proceeding.
Lewis, who has a net worth of $6.6 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is the latest figure to be swept up in an insider-trading crackdown led by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. He faces more than a dozen counts of securities fraud for alleged “brazen” conduct that spanned about eight years.
Wearing a gray suit, white shirt and a dark tie, Lewis spoke only to enter his plea.
His lawyers declined to comment after the hearing. Earlier, his attorney, David M. Zornow, said Lewis, who is based in the Bahamas, had come to the U.S. voluntarily to answer the “ill-conceived charges.”
He will be released on a $300 million bond secured by his yacht, “Aviva,” and private plane in a deal with prosecutors that was approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Valerie Figueredo. Under the deal, he will need to remain in New York, Georgia or Florida and surrender his passports.
The Tavistock Group founder is accused of abusing his access to corporate boardrooms to pass on inside information to his friends, staff on board his superyacht, personal pilots and romantic interests. His private jet pilots, Patrick O’Connor, 66, and Bryan ‘Marty’ Waugh, 64, were also charged.
In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed an insider trading lawsuit against Lewis, the two pilots and a former girlfriend.
The Tottenham Hotspur soccer club owner did this as a way to “compensate his employees or shower gifts on his friends and lovers,” Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said on Tuesday night.
“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 friends, and his pilots,” Williams said. “Those folks then traded on that inside information—and made millions of dollars in the stock market—because, thanks to Lewis, those bets were a sure thing.”
Lewis is the highest-profile investor the office has prosecuted for insider trading this year. The businessman’s firm has stakes in more than 200 businesses, with investments across real estate, hotels and sports, in 13 countries.
This article was provided by Bloomberg News.