Tavistock founder and and Tottenham Hotspur owner Joe Lewis.
Lewis says he is ‘so embarrassed’ by insider trading conduct Image Credit: AP

London: British billionaire Joe Lewis will plead guilty to passing inside information to his private pilots and girlfriend, putting a black mark on the 86-year-old investor's otherwise spectacular rise from London's East End to one of Britain's richest men.

Lewis' lawyer said his client will enter the plea at a hearing in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday. The plea comes six months after the Bahamas-based octogenarian was charged with more than a dozen counts, including securities fraud.

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Lewis spoke softly as he answered a series of routine questions from the judge, saying that he had been under the care of doctors for "multiple situations." His attorney David Zornow said he had no doubts whatsoever about Lewis' competence.

The founder of investment firm Tavistock Group, which has stakes in more than 200 companies, including luxury hotels, resorts and sports, is the 316th-richest person in the world. He has a net worth of $7.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and was the most high-profile figure to be prosecuted for insider trading by federal prosecutors in Manhattan last year.

Lewis passed on material non-public information about four entities, including Australian Agricultural Co. and Mirati Therapeutics, to his pilots, Bryan Waugh and Patrick O'Connor and former girlfriend Carolyn Carter between 2019 and 2021, prosecutors said. The pilots were also indicted for securities fraud last year but did not appear in court on Wednesday.

Lewis, Carter, Waugh and O'Connor were also sued by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.