Tavistock billionaire Joe Lewis surrenders on insider trading charges

Insider knowledge was a way to “shower gift on his friends and lovers,” feds say

Tavistock Group founder Joe Lewis
Tavistock Group founder Joe Lewis (Sanford Burnham Prebys; Getty)

Tavistock Group founder Joe Lewis surrendered himself to the feds to face charges for orchestrating what authorities called a “brazen insider trading scheme.”

The British billionaire turned himself into the Manhattan office of the U.S. Attorney on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported. The Tottenham Hotspur football club owner faces insider trading charges from both the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

David M. Zornow, an attorney for Lewis, told the outlet his client voluntarily returned to the U.S. from his home in the Bahamas to answer the charges. 

“He used inside information as a way to compensate his employees or to shower gifts on his friends and lovers,” U.S. attorney Damian Williams said in a press release. The suits allege that 86-year-old Lewis shared insider information with everyone from friends, staff, personal assistants and romantic partners. 

His private pilots, Patrick O-Connor and Bryan Waugh, are named as co-conspirators in both complaints. Lewis’ former girlfriend, Carolyn W. Carter, is also named in the SEC case. 

Lewis founded the Tavistock Group in 1975, and today has an estimated net worth of $6.1 billion, according to Forbes. His wealth has grown by $1.5 billion since 2020, Forbes data show. 

Lewis’ investments span industries including sports, retail, energy, restaurants and biotech, according to Tavistock’s website. The firm currently has two major South Florida projects in the works: Pier Sixty-Six in Fort Lauderdale and the Wellington, a proposed project in Wellington.

Pier Sixty-Six, a waterfront mixed-use development that includes a pair of 11-story, 61-unit condominiums and a three-building hotel complex with 325 rooms, landed a $175 million construction loan in April. Sales launched for the condos in August. 

Tavistock doubled down in March on its Fort Lauderdale bet, dropping $21.9 million on a flipped 34-unit multifamily building. 

The Wellington is a proposed development involving single-family homes, condos, retail, restaurant and office space on hundreds of acres in the equestrian town. Lewis’ Tavistock is one of the partners in a group led by developer Mark Bellissimo and including celebrities Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, and Justin Timberlake. Last week, Wellington’s Planning, Zoning and Adjustment Board pushed a vote on related land use amendments for the project to mid August. 

Kate Hinsche