Despite 86 year old billionaire owner Joe Lewis’ indictment by federal prosecutors on charges of insider trading last night, Tottenham Hotspur are not expected to face any sanctions or punishment, according to the Premier League. Lewis has now surrendered to authorities in New York City.
Matt Law, writing in the Daily Telegraph, reports that the Premier League is not expected to take any punitive action against the club despite Lewis’ ownership of the club, because Lewis has reportedly turned over all managing responsibilities to others in the past year. In a sense, he no longer is under direct control of Tottenham Hotspur and therefore the club itself bears no responsibility for Lewis’ actions.
This is a bit odd to me upon first reading, considering Lewis is accused of passing “material nonpublic information” to his friends, lovers, and even his employees dating back eight years. That would seem to suggest that he was breaking US law while he WAS in direct control of Tottenham Hotspur, but I’m neither a lawyer or a finance person so what do I know? Had the Premier League decided the club was culpable, it could have issued fines, siezed assets, or even forced a sale much like they did for former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovitch. That appears, at least for now, to be off the table, thankfully.
The full indictment has now been publicly released and you are free to read the 31 page document yourself. The indictment alleges that Lewis frequently passed on information via forwarded emails that were marked “CONFIDENTIAL | NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION” or otherwise marked as privileged. The indictment also alleges that this information was shared “as a substitute for providing a formal retirement plan for his pilots.” Lewis is also alleged to have loaned his friends, lovers and employees money in which to invest in this privileged information, often making them significant profits. Lewis faces 19 counts: 16 counts of securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy, all of which have significant years of prison time if he is found guilty.
It kind of boggles my mind that Lewis would knowingly use this information to help his friends make money instead of, y’know, just giving them money which would be both easier and very likely completely legal. But I’m not a billionaire, and he’s also presumed innocent until the feds prove their case. Lewis also has extremely good lawyers, so this could drag on for a significant amount of time.
Meanwhile, Tottenham quickly released a short statement basically disavowing any involvement in Lewis’ case:
“This is a legal matter unconnected with the club and as such we have no comment.”
Predictably, Ange Postecoglou was asked about Joe Lewis and the indictment in the post-match press conference after Spurs friendly win over Lion City Sailors in Singapore. And because Ange Postecoglou is Ange Postecoglou, his response was both predictably brief and kind of hilarious.
“The club’s put a statement out on that and if you think that’s what I’m involved in you don’t know what my role is here.”
LOL. Lots more to come, we’re very likely not done with this story.