AustAg's billionaire investor Joe Lewis pleads guilty in US to insider trading
by John McCarthy
Lewis, who also heads the Tavistock Group, was charged by the US Attorney in Manhattan Damian Williams “for orchestrating a brazen insider trading scheme” in which he passed on information about his companies to his private pilots, friends, personal assistants and romantic partners.
US authorities said that the fraud netted millions of dollars in profit.
Lewis pleaded guilty to conspiracy and two counts of securities fraud as part of a deal with prosecutors.
Lewis owns England’s Tottenham Hotspur football club, now coached by Ausralian Ange Posteglou, and just over 50 per cent of Australian Agriculture, which in turn owns about 1 per cent of the Australia’s land mass and 6.4 million hectares of Queensland grazing land.
The AACo portfolio includes foodlots and properties like the Canobie Station, near Cloncurry, Carrum Station and the Dalgonally Station, both near Julia Creek, the Avon and Austral Downs station which spans the Queensland-NT border and the Goonoo farm and feedlot near Emerald.
Part of the case brought against Lewis was that he passed on information about the impact of floods in Queensland to his pilots. Those two pilots have also been indicted for securities fraud, however the information allegedly passed on to them in relation to the floods came too late for them to take any action.
Lewis’s two representatives on the Aust Ag board denied leaking the information to him.
In another instance, according to the indictment, Lewis told a girlfriend to invest in a biotech company in July 2019, before the results of a clinical trial by the company were made public.
He then allegedly logged into her bank account himself and used $700,000 to invest into the company, eventually netting a profit of $849,000.
“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,” the US District Attorney said.
“It’s classic corporate corruption,” Williams said.
“It’s cheating and it’s against the law.”