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Billionaire Joe Lewis avoids prison in US insider trading case


British billionaire Joe Lewis, the former owner of Tottenham Hotspur, has avoided a prison sentence in the United States for insider trading.

At 87 years old, Lewis was sentenced to three years’ probation and fined $5 million in a federal court in Manhattan. This decision comes after Lewis pleaded guilty in January, facing a potential prison term of 18 months to two years under American sentencing guidelines.

Judge Jessica Clarke cited Lewis’s age, ill health, and remorse as factors warranting a more lenient sentence. She expressed concern that imprisonment would pose a serious risk to Lewis’s life. In addition to the $5 million fine, Lewis’s investment firm, Broad Bay, was fined an additional $44 million, bringing the total penalty to $49 million.

During the court proceedings, Lewis, wearing a black eye patch, was visibly unwell and shaky, requiring assistance from family members. He expressed remorse for his actions, acknowledging his mistake and pledging to make amends.

Lewis was indicted by the Department of Justice in July last year for orchestrating an insider trading scheme. Although he did not personally benefit, Lewis provided lucrative financial secrets to associates, resulting in more than $500,000 in profits for them.

While prosecutors described the insider trading as calculated, they acknowledged Lewis’s age and health condition, refraining from seeking a prison sentence. Lewis’s defence emphasised his deteriorating health since the indictment and the potential catastrophic impact of imprisonment.

In sentencing Lewis, Judge Clarke emphasized the seriousness of insider trading, noting its impact on market integrity. However, she considered Lewis’s age, lack of prior offenses, and early guilty plea in determining a non-custodial sentence. She also recognised Lewis’s business success and philanthropic contributions.

Aviva mega yacht, owned by British billionaire businessman Joe Lewis, moored in the port of Malaga

Lewis, one of the 500 richest people globally, is a resident of the Bahamas and owns significant assets worldwide. Despite his wealth, Lewis’s early life was marked by hardship, including being separated from his family during the Blitz in London.

Lewis’s case is part of a broader investigation into insider trading, with one co-conspirator pleading guilty, and another set to go to trial in June.

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