Gulf Today

UK billionair­e fined $5m over illegal stock tips


NEW YORK: A US judge ordered British billionair­e Joe Lewis on Thursday to pay a $5 million fine and serve three years of probation for sharing illegal stock tips, allowing an investment firm’s 87-year-old founder to avoid prison ater prosecutor­s and his atorneys urged leniency.

US District Judge Jessica Clarke in Manhatan sentenced Lewis, who pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy and two counts of securities fraud.

Lewis, founder of the Tavistock Group, sat flanked by his lawyers as the sentence was imposed, wearing a gray suit and an eye patch. He told the judge he was ashamed of what he had done.

“I am here today because I made a terrible mistake,” he said.

The judge agreed that Lewis could leave the US on his private aircrat on Thursday night, though his yacht, the Aviva, will be held until his fine is paid.

“Lewis is grateful that the court has imposed a probationa­ry sentence that considers his age and health issues,” Mark Herr, a spokespers­on for Lewis, said ater the hearing.

Prosecutor­s said Lewis, whose family trust controls a majority of London’s Totenham Hotspur soccer team, passed inside informatio­n on his porfolio companies to two of his private pilots as well as friends, personal assistants and romantic partners.

Those tips enabled the recipients of the informatio­n to reap millions of dollars in profit, according to prosecutor­s.

Lewis in January entered a plea deal with prosecutor­s agreeing to a $50 million fine of his Bahamas company, Broad Bay. Under the agreement, Lewis’ fine will be included in the total.

He also agreed to resign board seats at US companies and relinquish majority ownership of Boxer Capital, the biotech-focused fund where prosecutor­s say he got tips.

The London native, who lives in the Bahamas, travelled to New York to face the charges immediatel­y ater learning of his indictment, his atorneys said in court papers.

Lewis has since remained in the country, posting $300 million bail secured by his yacht and a private aircrat.

His decision not to fight extraditio­n, coupled with his significan­t health issues, had led prosecutor­s to recommend leniency for Lewis, whose doctors have said prison could be lethal.

Lewis is worth $6.2 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

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Joe Lewis, covered in a jacket, leaves Manhattan Federal Court in New York on Thursday.
Associated Press ↑ Joe Lewis, covered in a jacket, leaves Manhattan Federal Court in New York on Thursday.

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