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Albany chief in 'devastating and self-inflicted humiliation'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Albany's principal investor has admitted that pleading guilty to securities fraud is "a devastating and self-inflicted humiliation I will have to live with for the rest of my days".

Joe Lewis, the Bahamas-based British billionaire who spearheaded the southwestern New Providence community's multi-million dollar development, told the southern New York federal court that he had allowed "hubris and childish exuberance to impede my judgment" over the insider trading scheme for which he is now seeking to be spared jail time.

The letter from the long-time Bahamas and Lyford Cay resident, addressed to Judge Jessica Clarke, was filed on Friday as part of sentencing submissions by Mr Lewis and his attorneys. They are arguing that the billionaire's age, at 87 years-old, combined with his health issues and long history of philanthropy and charitable donations, merit a non-prison sentence of three years' probation and a further $5m fine.

This is the same punishment as recommended by the US Probation and Pretrial Services System, with Mr Lewis' attorneys pointing out that the billionaire and his investment vehicle, Broad Bay Ltd, are already set to pay $50m in "fines and forfeiture" as a result of the guilty plea. They reiterated that this is "many times" the estimated losses of around $500,000.

And, should Judge Clarke reject these recommendations and order Mr Lewis to serve a term of home confinement, his attorneys requested that this occur in The Bahamas as there was a precedent for US courts to mandate that foreign nationals be subjected to such punishment in their home jurisdictions.

The Albany developer, in his letter to Judge Clarke, pointed out that he had not wasted the court's time as he swiftly pled guilty to tipping-off lovers, secretaries, friends and even his private pilots to purchase or offload various publicly-traded corporate stocks using non-public information he accessed in his role as a major global investor.

Mr Lewis, also pointing out he had headed to the US at the earliest opportunity, and not elected to remain outside its jurisdiction and fight extradition as many others have done, pledged that he would spend his remaining years "rebuilding the trust I squandered".

"I am ashamed and deeply aware that I allowed my hubris and childish exuberance to impede my judgment," he wrote. "Realising my actions have violated the law and harmed those I love fills me with profound shame and embarrassment."

Offering the court "and all those I have hurt" his apologies, Mr Lewis added: "I offer no justifications for my actions nor excuses for my behaviour. I hope my decision to immediately and voluntarily travel to the US upon learning of my indictment, and my desire to plead guilty, demonstrate my willingness to accept responsibility and acknowledge my predicament is entirely my fault."

The Bahamas resident, through his Tavistock Group investment vehicle, is a major investor in the life sciences and health sector. "I have always believed I could make a difference," he told Judge Clarke. "I wanted to find cures for diseases and genuinely help people.

"The proudest and most exciting event in my professional life was when a company that I had nurtured for many years discovered life-saving treatments for colon and rectal cancer. But I now recognise the irony of how my misguided actions undermined the laws of this nation and the very aims I pursued. It is a devastating and self-inflicted humiliation I will have to live with for the rest of my days.

"Your honour, I offer my apology with sincerity and humility, recognising the gravity of my transgressions and the pain I have caused. At 87 I have little time to repent and repair my relationship with this country, my family and friends," Mr Lewis continued.

"What days, months or years I have left I assure you will be fully committed to making amends, rebuilding the trust I squandered and proving to the court and my loved ones that I am an honest, caring and giving person of this world."

Mr Lewis and his attorneys, in justifying their push for punishment less harsh than the 18-24 month prison term recommended in sentencing guidelines, pointed to his investments that have helped to revitalise and stimulate the Bahamian economy.

"In The Bahamas, Mr Lewis sought to rejuvenate the economy by investing in underserved areas, building a new primary school (Windsor School), seeking first generation scholars from under-privileged families and providing full-ride university scholarships to the University of Central Florida (UCF)," they wrote.

"Bahamian students have received full tuition, room and board, textbooks, visas and all travel expenses for years. The Lewis Scholarship programme has enabled recipients to become the first in their families to attend college and gain access to greater opportunities."

The sentencing submissions also revealed that Mr Lewis has made an offer, and "is in the process of settling", a civil action brought by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) in relation to the same insider trading allegations. The settlement, which is expected to be approved imminently, will see the billionaire pay a $1.6m penalty that is "three times the losses at issue in this case".

Mr Lewis will be barred from re-entering the US once his sentence is completed. His attorneys, pointing out that the losses and sums involved at $550,000 were relatively minimal when compared to the typical millions of dollars involved in insider trading cases, said: "It is also worth noting that Mr Lewis' offences did not involve trading in any of the stocks at issue or for his own direct personal enrichment.

"This is not the case of a defendant who became rich through his offence conduct. To the contrary, Mr Lewis' offence conduct took place in his 80s when he had ample legitimate wealth to confer legitimate benefits on people in his circle. As such, his offence conduct was senseless and deeply regrettable."

Mr Lewis, who started out in east London’s restaurant industry, moved to The Bahamas in 1979 and is said to have made his fortune from currency trading and speculation. According to the Sunday Times’ 2023 ‘rich list’, he has a net worth of some £5.096bn, while his Tavistock Group spans 200 companies and 8,400 employees in 13 countries.

He previously owned New Providence Development Company, before exiting the investment and handing the company over to his former business partner, New Orleans-based Terry White, to focus on Albany’s development. Tavistock Group also developed the Lake Nona and Isleworth communities in Florida, and besides real estate has investments in restaurants, hospitality, energy and agriculture.

Comments

TalRussell 1 month, 4 weeks ago

If it's a good enough ride for a Billionaire! ---  Well then, i'd be okay with long-time Bahamas and Lyford Cay resident Comrade Joe Lewis, serving-out his residence sentence of home confinement.--- Provided that his [motor car], becomes a [free loaner car] for our colony's premiership. ---- Good Day?

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realitycheck242 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Let Mr Lewis to serve a term of home confinement, He has done many good for the Bahamas and his crime was not for self-enrichment. He is repentant and apologetic. Men of his elk has blessed the world many times more the world can give them. His remaining days should be spent with the peace and gods love that passeth all understanding on his mind.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Sorry this is totally unrelated (and not targeted at you) but its one of my pet peeves.

I've heard a number of people use the phrase "men of their ilk" with clear intent to portray something positive about a person. The word "Ilk", is almost always used to relay shared negative characteristics. You'd for example talk about a known slimy shifty eyed thief and men of his ilk. When speaking positively about group traits it's better to use "men of his character".. maybe even add an adjective, good character, exceptional character or upstanding character etc... words with positive connotations

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TalRussell 1 month, 3 weeks ago

ComradeThisIsOur, you sure know how to verbalize as in when to use good grammar to allow the reader to better understand the intent of an "ILK". --- Good Day!

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I use bad grammar too! it's just when I hear someone say "people of his ilk" in praise of someone, it's like fingernails scraping over a chalkboard. I've heard alot of people using it lately

I confess though that I did have someone in mind for the slimy shifty eyed thief lol (unrelated to this story!)

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Baha10 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Reckon “Ilk” was appropriate for someone who has made a fortune from insider trading at the expense of innocent duped investors, only having finally got caught to now seek forgiveness and redemption on account of age and having given a bit of his ill gotten gains to charity, least we forget this is the same man who killed “Clifton” Project through a variety of of underhanded tactics at huge cost to our economy to enable “Albany” to emerge from the otherwise desolate Pine Barrens … dare I say to attract more of his “Ilk” such as SBF and others.

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bahamianson 1 month, 3 weeks ago

We are all subjected to corruption, it seems. Now, did any of our politicians get money during his time in the Bahamas? Our politicians like to cuddle up and get rich from the people they use to win votes. They used to say the white man is evil , then sleep in the same bed with him, only yo gain ignorante black votes.

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Baha10 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Perhaps a good place to start would be to investigate the Names of the self ingratiating Names on the Street Signs within “Albany” … would not want to make this corruption investigation too difficult🤣

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