In a significant development, billionaire Joe Lewis, formerly associated with bankrupt crypto exchange FTX and known for owning a Premier League football club, has pleaded guilty to 19 fraud charges related to insider trading in the United States.
Lewis, who had sold over $76 million worth of property in the Bahamas to Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, acknowledged his involvement in a scheme to benefit friends and associates.
Securities Fraud Scandal
According to a Reuters report, under the agreement with the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan, Lewis, 86, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and two counts of securities fraud.
However, his lawyer, David Zornow, stated that Lewis retains the right to appeal if the judge imposes a prison sentence. The sentencing is scheduled for March 28.
The charges against Lewis, whose family trust wields majority control over the Tottenham Hotspur soccer team, stem from allegations that he provided inside information on his portfolio companies to private pilots, friends, personal assistants, and romantic partners.
Prosecutors claim that these individuals allegedly used the privileged information to amass millions of dollars in profits.
During the hearing, Lewis addressed US District Judge Jessica Clarke, expressing regret for his behavior. Lewis admitted his actions were wrong and stated, “I am so embarrassed, and I apologize to the court for my conduct.” Notably, Lewis had initially pleaded not guilty when charged in July.
Federal prosecutors leveled 16 counts of securities fraud and three conspiracy charges against Lewis, covering misconduct between 2013 and 2021.
Although Lewis will not plead guilty to all the counts as part of the agreement, Judge Clarke indicated that she may consider them for sentencing purposes. In a statement, Damian Williams, the US Attorney in Manhattan, emphasized that the law applies to everyone, regardless of wealth or status.
FTX’s Bahamas Luxury Real Estate Connection
Lewis’s bail conditions restrict him from leaving the United States, boarding his yacht, or using his aircraft except for court appearances. His travel is limited to New York, Florida, and Georgia, where he owns the property.
Lewis’s sentencing coincides with another high-profile case involving disgraced billionaire FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried.
As previously reported, Bankman-Fried is scheduled to be sentenced on charges related to embezzling billions of dollars from FTX exchange customers. Both hearings will occur in the same courthouse, with Bankman-Fried’s sentencing in the morning and Lewis’s in the afternoon.
Interestingly, Lewis’s investment firm, Tavistock, reportedly invested in Albany, a luxury waterfront real estate development in the Bahamas, where Bankman-Fried resided and was arrested in 2022.
Featured image from Shutterstock, chart from TradingView.com
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