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British billionaire Joe Lewis avoids jail in insider trading case, fined £4 million

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British billionaire Joe Lewis was fined $5 million (£4m) by a US judge for insider trading. The judge also ordered him to serve three years of probation.

Lewis, founder of the Tavistock Group, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud. He admitted passing inside information on his portfolio companies to two pilots and others, helping them make millions in profit.

Lewis, who owns a majority of London’s Tottenham Hotspur football team, agreed to a plea deal involving a $50 million (£40m) fine for his Bahamas company. He also resigned from board seats and relinquished ownership of a biotech-focused fund.

Despite facing up to 24 months in prison, Lewis was spared jail time due to his age and health issues. His lawyers argued that imprisonment could be lethal for him.

Prosecutors accused Lewis of sharing insider information about companies he had invested in, including Mirati Therapeutics and BCTG Acquisition. Two pilots involved in the scheme made millions in illegal profits, with one pleading guilty and the other denying wrongdoing.

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Lewis expressed remorse in court, acknowledging his mistake and the shame it brought him. He emphasised his intention to make amends for his actions.

The judge’s decision to impose a fine and probation instead of prison was based on Lewis’s failing health and the recommendation of leniency from prosecutors. Despite the seriousness of his offenses, the judge opted for a sentence that considered Lewis’s age and health condition.

Lewis, once a titan of industry, faced embarrassment and humiliation as a result of the insider trading case. His lawyers argued that his contributions over eight decades should be considered alongside his wrongdoing.

Lewis’s wealth and influence in the business world did not shield him from accountability. The judge emphasized the importance of maintaining the integrity of financial markets, regardless of one’s status or wealth.

In the end, Lewis avoided prison but was held accountable for his actions through a substantial fine and probation. His case serves as a reminder of the consequences of insider trading, even for the wealthy and powerful.

(Agencies)

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