British billionaire Joe Louis, whose family owns Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, has pleaded guilty to insider trading in a US court.
Lewis, 86, was accused of passing information about his companies to his private pilots, friends, personal assistants and romantic partners.
US authorities say the scam generated millions of dollars in profits.
Lewis pleaded guilty to conspiracy and two counts of securities fraud as part of a deal with prosecutors.
Lewis founded the investment firm Tavistock Group, and is ranked 39th on the 2023 Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated fortune of more than £5 billion ($6.4 billion).
He was arrested in July 2023 and charged with sixteen counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy.
Prosecutors alleged that between 2013 and 2021, he abused his access to the company's board rooms and passed inside information to his contacts.
US Attorney Damian Williams said those connections generated millions of dollars from “sure thing” bets on the stock market.
“Today’s guilty plea reaffirms – as I said when announcing the charges against Joseph Lewis just six months ago – that the law applies to everyone, no matter who you are or how much wealth you have,” Williams said in a statement.
In one case, according to the indictment, Lewis asked his girlfriend to invest in a biotechnology company in July 2019, before the results of a clinical trial conducted by the company were published. He then allegedly logged into her bank account himself and used $700,000 to invest in the company, ultimately making a profit of $849,000.
Prosecutors also said that as part of the scheme, Lewis concealed the true size of his ownership stake in one company, Mirati Therapeutics.
In court in Manhattan on Wednesday, Lewis admitted that he knew what he was doing was wrong.
“I feel very embarrassed and apologize to the court for my behavior,” he said.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and the two securities fraud charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years each.
However, the plea agreement allows Lewis to appeal the decision if he is sentenced to prison.
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