Joe Lewis, the UK billionaire and owner of Tottenham Hotspur, has been indicted in the US for what officials called a “brazen” set of insider trading schemes.
“He used inside information as a way to compensate his employees or shower gifts on his friends and lovers,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in a video statement on Tuesday.
“That’s classic corporate corruption,” he added. “It’s cheating, and it’s against the law.”
The US attorney said Mr Lewis “abused his access to corporate boardrooms” to share insider information with “his romantic partners, his personal assistants, his private pilots, and his friends.”
“Those folks then traded on that information and made millions of dollars on the stock market,” Mr Williams added.
An attorney for Mr Lewis told The Independent he plans to fight the charges.
“The government has made an egregious error in judgment in charging Mr Lewis, an 86-year-old man of impeccable integrity and prodigious accomplishment,” David M Zornow said in an email statement. “Mr Lewis has come to the US voluntarily to answer these ill-conceived charges, and we will defend him vigorously in court.”
A Tottenham club spokesperson said: “This is a legal matter unconnected with the club and as such we have no comment.”
Lewis bought a controlling stake in the Premier League club from Lord Sugar in 2001 for £22m.
The billionaire is charged with 16 counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy, Reuters reports.
The businessman owns the Tavistock Group, which owns more than 200 assets across 13 countries, including Tottenham Hotspur and UK pub operator Mitchells & Butlers, according to Sky News.
Mr Lewis, 86, is worth an estimated $6.1bn and lives in the Bahamas, according to Forbes.