FOOTIE RAP Tottenham billionaire Joe Lewis pleads guilty to US insider trading scheme as he strikes plea deal with judges

TOTTENHAM billionaire Joe Lewis has pleaded guilty to insider trading in the US.

The former Spurs chief, 86, said he was "so embarrassed" as he admitted to passing inside information to his private pilots and girlfriends as part of a "brazen" scheme.

Lewis, 86, pictured arriving at the United States Courthouse in Manhattan on Wednesday
Lewis, 86, pictured arriving at the United States Courthouse in Manhattan on WednesdayCredit: Reuters

Lewis, understood to be worth $6.2billion, initially denied all 19 charges made against him last July.

But today, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and two counts of securities fraud, as part of an agreement with the US Attorney's office in Manhattan.

As part of the plea deal, Lewis - whose family trust controls a majority of the Tottenham Hotspur - has the right to appeal in the event he is sentenced to prison time, his lawyer David Zornow said.

Lewis was charged in July 2023 with passing inside information on his portfolio companies to two of his private pilots as well as friends, personal assistants and romantic partners.

The tips enabled them to reap millions of dollars of profit, according to prosecutors.

Addressing US District Judge Jessica Clarke, Lewis said he knew at the time that what he was doing was wrong.

He said: "I am so embarrassed and I apologise to the court for my conduct."

The pilots, Patrick O'Connor and Bryan Waugh, were also charged. All three men entered not guilty pleas last July.

Lewis was charged by federal prosecutors with 16 counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy, for alleged crimes spanning from 2013 to 2021.

He was accused of  "classic corporate corruption" by orchestrating a "brazen" insider trading scheme.

While Lewis will not plead guilty to the other counts under the terms of his deal, Clarke said she may consider them for sentencing purposes.

Clarke set his sentencing for March 28.

Lewis has been allowed to remain free on a $300 million bond secured by his yacht, named the Aviva, and private aircraft.

The terms of his bail restrict Lewis from traveling outside the United States, boarding his yacht or traveling in his personal aircraft unless it was to attend a court hearing.

Lewis is limited to traveling between New York, Florida and Georgia, where he owns property.

Prosecutors have said Lewis gleaned inside information about four companies in which he had invested through his hedge fund and tipped friends and associates between 2019 and 2021.

The companies, according to prosecutors, included Mirati Therapeutics and BCTG Acquisition Corp, a blank check company that his hedge fund founded and took Tango Therapeutics public in a merger in 2021.

Lewis hid the size of his holdings in Mirati by investing through a trust and a shell company registered in the name of his granddaughter and an employee, according to prosecutors.

The ex-Spurs chief is a self-made billionaire who was born in London - but rarely spends time in the UK.

He is worth $6.2 billion (£4.8billion), according to Forbes magazine

According to the Forbes rich list, he has an estimated fortune of a whopping £4.3billion.

Lewis is the founder and primary investor of Bahamas-based investment firm Tavistock Group.

He bought a controlling stake in the Premier League club from Lord Sugar in 2001 for £22million.

Lewis officially ceded control of the club in 2022. with Bahamian lawyer Bryan A Glinton replacing him as a director according to Companies House.

His stake in the club - which he held through the ENIC Group alongside Daniel Levy - was formally handed to a family trust.

Family members of Lewis remain beneficiaries of the trust.

Lewis (C) walks with his legal team after surrendering to authorities last July
Lewis (C) walks with his legal team after surrendering to authorities last JulyCredit: EPA
Lewis pictured on his yacht Aviva in the Bahamas
Lewis pictured on his yacht Aviva in the Bahamas

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