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Albany developer charged on ‘brazen insider trading’

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Joe Lewis

• Attorneys for billionaire Joe Lewis blast ‘egregious error’

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamas-based billionaire who spearheaded Albany’s development was yesterday charged with orchestrating a “brazen insider trading scheme” that allegedly netted millions of dollars in illicit profits for his closest associates.

Joe Lewis, the Briton who has been a Bahamas resident since 1979, is accused by New York federal prosecutors of tipping lovers, secretaries, friends and even his private pilots to purchase various corporate stocks using non-public information he accessed in his role as a major global investor.

The 86 year-old’s attorneys last night blasted what they branded an “egregious error” by the southern New York district attorney’s office in electing to charge Mr Lewis with 16 separate counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy.

David Zornow, of the Skadden Arps law firm, said in an e-mailed statement to the media: “The [US] government has made an egregious error in judgment in charging Mr Lewis, an 86-year-old man of impeccable integrity and prodigious accomplishment. Mr Lewis has come to the US voluntarily to answer these ill-conceived charges, and we will defend him vigorously in court.”

The case against Mr Lewis is being brought by Damian Williams, the US attorney for the southern New York district, who is also leading the prosecution of Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the Bahamas-headquartered multi-billion FTX crypto exchange that collapsed last November. Mr Bankman-Fried and his closest associates lived and worked in multiple residences at Albany during their Bahamian stay, including the development’s flagship Orchid penthouse.

There is no link between the two cases. However, in unveiling the charges against Mr Lewis via social media, Mr Williams said: “Today I am announcing that my office, the southern district of New York, has indicted Joe Lewis, the British billionaire, for orchestrating a brazen insider trading scheme.

“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. These folks then traded on that inside information and made millions of dollars in the stock markets. Thanks to Joe Lewis, those bets were a sure thing.

“Now, none of this was necessary,” Mr Williams added. “Joe Lewis is a wealthy man but, as we allege, he used inside information to compensate his employees or to shower gifts on his friends and lovers. It’s classic corporate corruption. It’s cheating, and it’s against the law; laws that apply to everyone else no matter who you are. That’s why Joe Lewis has been indicted, and will face justice here in the US in the southern district of New York.”

From a Bahamas perspective, the most important immediate issue is what - if any - impact the charges will have on Mr Lewis’ local investments and, principally, Albany, which is responsible for the direct and indirect employment of hundreds of Bahamians and injects a multi-million dollar impact annually into the economy.

Any near-term fall-out is thought minimal at best. Besides Mr Lewis’ Tavistock Group, his investment vehicle that has declared more than 200 interests and corporate holdings spread across 13 countries, Albany’s other deep-pocketed investors include world-renowned golfers, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, plus singer Justin Timberlake.

Albany has also been seeking to acquire its neighbouring South Ocean property, although consummation of that deal has been placed on hold due to litigation initiated by rival Austrian investor, Dr Mirko Kovats, who also resides at Lyford Cay.

Insider trading occurs when perpetrators exploit their access to privileged, non-public information to gain an unfair advantage over other investors who lack the same knowledge. They typically use the details to tip-off their family and close friends, using them to buy or sell shares ahead of a public revelation that typically boosts or lowers the stock’s value, thereby enabling all to make significant profits with the initial perpetrator sharing in the windfall.

The grand jury indictment against Mr Lewis, which was unsealed yesterday, alleged that the Lyford Cay billionaire tipped his closest associates to the results of clinical trials. He is purported to have shared information on life sciences groups, Solid Biosciences and Mirati Therapeutics, plus beef producer Australian Agricultural Company and a special acquisition company, BCTG. Life sciences investments are among those that feature in Tavistock Group’s portfolio.

Prosecutors said that in some insider trading cases, Mr Lewis lent money to recipients of his tips, including in October 2019 when he wired $1m to two pilots so they could buy more Mirati shares. The indictment quoted one pilot texting a friend that “boss lent Marty and I $500,000 each for this”, and that he thought “the boss has inside info” because “otherwise why would he make us invest”.

Both pilots allegedly repaid their loans soon after Mirati announced favourable results from a clinical trial, causing its stock price to rise 16.7 percent. “Loan payback for MRTX,” the second pilot wrote in his records.

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.

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. Mr Lewis also owns the majority of English Premier League soccer club, Tottenham Hotspur, while the Tavistock Group also developed the Lake Nona and Isleworth communities in Florida.

Comments

Emilio26 11 months ago

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bahamianson 11 months ago

Christopher Columbus all over again, and it continually occurs. Persons with a lot of money come to the bahamas and apparently buy black leaders. When will this stop. We just had the ftx, now this. Had the zelensky, Carlos lehder, vesco , nygard, and the list goes on. It does not stop!!!

Maximilianotto 11 months ago

Not so nice

Joe Lewis: UK tycoon bailed in US fraud case but can't use superyacht https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-can…

More to come in Florida and Escondida Argentina nobody writing here must have been well greased…

In the US judges aren’t afraid of billionaires.

Albany will be affected. Lake Nona Orlando soon.

Lot’s of s..t will hit fans.

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