Tottenham

Who is Tottenham owner Joe Lewis? charged in the US with ‘brazen’ insider trading.

Who is Tottenham owner Joe Lewis? How did he make his fortune? What’s his net worth? And does he have children, as the British billionaire is indicted in US for ‘brazen’ insider trading?

  • Tottenham owner Joe Lewis was charged with insider trading by US authorities
  • Lewis, 86, is accused of passing on information to friends and romantic partners
  • The Premier League side said that the legal matter is ‘unconnected with the club’

The British billionaire has been accused by federal prosecutors of passing on inside information ‘as a way to compensate his employees or shower gifts on his friends and lovers’.

Lewis faces more than a dozen charges, including securities fraud, while he is also alleged to have loaned money to the people he is accused of tipping off.

The 86-year-old’s Lewis’ lawyers – Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom – have responded by insisting they would defend him ‘vigorously’ against the ‘ill-conceived’ charges.

Lewis has been billed as a ‘silent owner’ of Tottenham, but the charges have put his involvement in the Premier League club into the spotlight.

Tottenham owner Joe Lewis has been charged with insider trading by American authorities

Tottenham owner Joe Lewis has been charged with insider trading by American authorities

Who is Joe Lewis and how did he make his fortune? 

Lewis has little day to day involvement despite being the owner of Tottenham with the spotlight instead taken by chairman Daniel Levy, who was placed in charge when the ENIC group took over the club in 2001.

The 86-year-old is estimated to be worth £4.7billion according to Forbes, which would reportedly make Lewis the 444th richest person in the world.

Lewis left school at the age of 15 when he started working on his dad’s catering business Tavistock Banqueting and later took charge. He expanded the business further with restaurants focused on the tourist market, including the Beefeater pub chain and the West End nightclub, the Hanover Grand.

He sold the family business for £30million in 1979, the same year he became a tax exile in the Bahamas. Lewis’s focus had shifted to currency trading after establishing the Tavistock Group four years prior.

Success in the currency trading contributed to Lewis earning the nickname ‘The Boxer’, also owning to his namesake and former world heavyweight champion Joe Louis. One of Lewis’s companies was named Boxer Capital as a result.

Lewis is said to have made his huge fortune by betting on ‘Black Wednesday’, when Britain was forced to withdraw from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) after a collapse in the pound on September 16, 1992.

The 86-year-old made his fortune in currency trading after establishing the Tavistock Group

The 86-year-old made his fortune in currency trading after establishing the Tavistock Group

Lewis teamed up with hedge-fund manager George Soros (pictured) to bet against the pound in 1992 when it crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday

Lewis teamed up with hedge-fund manager George Soros (pictured) to bet against the pound in 1992 when it crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday

The ERM was introduced in the late 1970s to stabilise European currencies in preparation for the introduction of the Euro. Lewis teamed up with hedge-fund manager George Soros in betting on the pound crashing out, and made eye-watering sums of money out of a national crisis.

Lewis was estimated to have lost a third of his fortune in 2008 due to the collapse of the American bank Bear Stearns. However, his wealth has grown over the past decade having been worth an estimated £3.1billion in 2013, with the Briton now worth £4.7billion.

Lewis’s Tavistock Group are reported to own over 200 assets in 13 countries, including luxury club resorts, restaurants, hotels and an Australian agriculture firm.

He is the majority shareholder at Mitchells & Butlers, which owns a flock of pubs and restaurants including All Bar One, Toby Carvery and the Harvester chain.

The billionaire is also famed for his extensive art collection which includes work by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and Henry Moore. Last year, Lewis set a world record by selling a David Hockney painting for £70.3 million, a record for an artwork by a living artist.

Lewis also teamed up with golfer Tiger Woods to create the ultra-exclusive Albany golf and leisure resort in the Bahamas, with Ernie Els and Justin Timberlake among its co-owners.

What has Lewis been accused of? 

US Attorney Damian Williams announced the indictment on Tuesday in a statement published on social media.

‘My office, the Southern District of New York has indicted Joe Lewis, the British billionaire, for orchestrating a brazen insider trading scheme,’ Williams said.

‘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 private pilots and his friends.

‘Those folks then traded on that inside information and made millions of dollars on the stock market because – thanks to Lewis – those bets were a sure thing.’

‘Now, none of this was necessary. Joe Lewis is a wealthy man. But as we allege he used inside information as a way to compensate his employees or shower gifts on his friends and lovers. It is classic corporate corruption.

‘It’s cheating and it’s against the law. That’s why Joe Lewis has been indicted and will face justice here in the Southern District of New York.’

US attorney Damian Williams said Lewis has orchestrated a 'brazen insider trading scheme'

US attorney Damian Williams said Lewis has orchestrated a ‘brazen insider trading scheme’

Lewis is charged with 13 counts of securities fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; three counts of securities fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison; and three counts of conspiracy, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

David M. Zornow, representing Lewis, vowed to vigorously defend him in court.

 ‘The government has made an egregious error in judgment in charging Mr Lewis, an 86-year-old man of impeccable integrity and prodigious accomplishment,’ Zornow said.

‘Mr Lewis has come to the US voluntarily to answer these ill-conceived charges, and we will defend him vigorously in court.’

How long has he owed Tottenham?

Lewis entered the sporting world in the 1990s after joining forces with long-term family friend Daniel Levy, with whom he started a Tavistock offshoot called the English National Investment Company.

Known more commonly as ENIC, the group bought stakes in Czech outfit Slavia Prague, Italian side Vicenza, Rangers in Scotland and the Greek football team AEK Athens.

ENIC then completed a £22million deal to become Tottenham’s majority shareholders in December 2020, taking over from Lord Alan Sugar.

Having initially bought a 29.9 per cent holding, ENIC gradually increased their take by buying out other shareholders. The company’s stake rose to 85 per cent by 2007.

ENIC’s growing shareholding in Tottenham coincided with the company selling their stakes in other clubs in their network.

Lewis is the silent owner of Tottenham with chairman Daniel Levy, right, the face of the club

Lewis is the silent owner of Tottenham with chairman Daniel Levy, right, the face of the club

The North London club have been transformed off the pitch during ENIC's tenure highlighted by their move into the £1billion Tottenham Hotspur Stadium back in 2019

The North London club have been transformed off the pitch during ENIC’s tenure highlighted by their move into the £1billion Tottenham Hotspur Stadium back in 2019

ENIC's ownership has been criticised as Tottenham's trophy drought stretches back to 2008

ENIC’s ownership has been criticised as Tottenham’s trophy drought stretches back to 2008

Lewis has had little involvement in the club, with Levy handling most of the day-to-day responsibility. Levy is the longest serving chairman in the Premier League, although his tenure has had mixed results.

Spurs have undergone a significant transformation from the mid-table side ENIC took over to regular participants in Europe, including several Champions League campaigns.

Investments off the pitch have included state-of-the-art training ground and a £1billion stadium. Spurs, however, only have a solitary trophy – the 2008 League Cup – under the ENIC regime leading to criticism from supporters.

Lewis has rarely been seen at Tottenham matches, but did attend the Champions League final in 2019 at the Wanda Metropolitano when Spurs suffered a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in Madrid. He also attended the inaugural match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against Crystal Palace in the same year.

A notable change came last October when a Companies House update said that Lewis ceased to be a person with significant control at Tottenham.

Spurs said at the time that the running of the club would not change despite the change.

‘Tottenham Hotspur Limited (the “Company”) has filed changes to its register of persons with significant control (PSCs) following a reorganisation of the Lewis Family Trusts,’ a Spurs statement read at the time. ‘The new PSCs of the Company are the officers of the family’s discretionary trust.’

Bahamas-based lawyer Bryan Antoine Glinton and Katie Louise Booth were both appointed as persons with significant control.

Lewis, right, made a rare visit to watch Tottenham in the Champions League final back in 2019

Lewis, right, made a rare visit to watch Tottenham in the Champions League final back in 2019

The billionaire ceased to be a person with significant control of Tottenham last October

The billionaire ceased to be a person with significant control of Tottenham last October

Where does he reside?

Lewis spends most of his time in the Bahamas, where he resides on a 321-foot super yacht Aviva III.

The yacht it is thought to act at Lewis’ mobile office, which has screens monitoring exchange rates.

Lewis has reportedly been known to live on board for months at a time, with the super yacht acting as both his office and a floating home to his art collection.

On a rare visit to the UK in 2018, Lewis’s yacht was spotted in the Thames near Tower Bridge – and even had his own moor built.

The entire Spurs team were invited to join him on the yacht during a post-season tour of the Bahamas in 2013.

Then Tottenham captain Michael Dawson had nothing but good things to say about Lewis after finally meeting him, calling him ‘a really nice, normal guy’, claiming he ‘loves’ watching Spurs play and knows everything about the club.

Lewis spends the majority of his time on the 321-foot super yacht Aviva III in the Bahamas

Lewis spends the majority of his time on the 321-foot super yacht Aviva III in the Bahamas

The £113million super yacht was pictured in the Thames on a rare visit to the UK back in 2018

The £113million super yacht was pictured in the Thames on a rare visit to the UK back in 2018

Does he have children?

Lewis has two children Vivienne and Charles, who are both involved in running parts of his business empire.

Reports last year claimed Vivienne is the most involved with the club and has attended matches alongside chairman Daniel Levy, as well as joining Tottenham on a pre-season tour in 2016.

Vivienne Lewis is also reportedly close friends with Harry Kane and his family and featured on a Zoom call for their gender reveal part in 2020, ahead of the birth of their third child.

How will it impact Tottenham and will the club be sold?

Tottenham responded to the news of Lewis’s indictment on Wednesday morning, stating ‘This is a legal matter unconnected with the club and as such we have no comment.’

The news came just days after reports that Lewis had told Levy that Kane must be sold this summer if the striker refuses to sign a new contract.

The reports claimed that Lewis is determined Kane, who is the face of the club, will not be allowed to see out his current deal and leave for free when it expires next summer.

The England captain has entered the final year of his contract, with Levy reportedly valuing him around the £100million mark amid interest from German champions Bayern Munich.

Kane is said to be unwilling to discuss a new contract at this stage, despite Spurs being willing to offer him fresh terms of up to £400,000 a week.

Reports claim Lewis has instructed Levy to sell Kane should the striker not agree a new deal

Reports claim Lewis has instructed Levy to sell Kane should the striker not agree a new deal

Another question is whether the news from the United States could lead to Tottenham being sold in the near future.

Lewis is known to be open to selling the club, with the billionaire is believed to value between £4bn-£4.5bn. Levy is understood to have welcomed a number of potential buyers to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on a number of occasions.

As recently as February, Tottenham were reportedly of interest to American businessman Jahm Najafi, who was believed to have been readying a £3.1billion offer.

However, Najafi’s MSP Sports Capital entered an exclusivity agreement with Everton in May over a potential takeover.

Liberty Media, who already own the Formula One Group, have also been linked with investing in Tottenham. The Premier League club announced a 15-year partnership with Formula One earlier this year.

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