There's a cliché in Argentina that indicates that anywhere in the world where something is going on, there will be an Argentine involved. It should come as no surprise, then, that in the case that could put billionaire Joe Lewis behind bars for 25 years the word “Argentina” should figure prominently in court documents. Rather than make it odd or bizarre, it becomes all the more interesting.
Paragraph 26 of the indictment filed by New York attorney Damian Williams reads as follows: “In or about October 2019, JOSEPH LEWIS (the defendant), also recommended that his executive assistant purchase Mirati stock in advance of the announcement of the company’s clinical trial results. LEWIS told his assistant to buy Mirati [stock]. LEWIS also told at least three other friends, including one with whom he was romantically involved and another with whom he sometimes played poker in Argentina, to buy Mirati stock in advance of the October announcement. Based on LEWIS’ recommendation, his assistance and Friends purchased Mirati stock…”.
As was proven with the famous trip to Lago Escondido – property owned by Joe Lewis in Río Negro – he has more than enough poker buddies in Argentina. From judges flagged for lawfare, to a former City of Buenos Aires officiall who was diplomatically exonerated due to his unsustainable performance, Clarín managers, and even a fomer president and the odd Río Negro official.
Yet the case file signed by attorney Williams only mentions the distinctive detail that Lewis provided insider information to a “friend with whom he played poker with in Argentina”. The entire document does not mention him by name. It does mention that this poker buddy listened to Joe Lewis, as did the other people who received confidential information from the British businessman, and all made money.
“On October 28th, 2019 or around that date”, as specified by Williams, “Mirati announced favourable results for the clinical trial of its KRAS inhibitor. The results were well received by the stock universe, and around 29 October 2019, the price of Mirati stock closed with a hike of around 16.7 percent compared to the previous day. After Mirati’s announcement, Pilot-I and Pilot-2, Joseph Lewis and his girlfriend, his assistant and friends, all sold their Mirati stock and turned their respective profits.”
Mirati is Mirati Therapeutics, one of the four companies mentioned in the case being heard in the United States. Through the insider information the British businessman had as a stockholder there and in such companies as Solid Biosciences, Australian Agricultural Company and BCTG Acquisition Corporation, the tycoon had access to confidential information which enabled people in his circle to buy and sell stock early, in addition to making a profit without any risk of loss.
While the case progresses in US courts, Joe Lewis appeared and in order to avoid prison paid five percent of his fortune as bail, a total of 300 million dollars. Lewis also had to turn over his passport, was forbidden from leaving the United States, and was only allowed to stay in his Florida or New York homes.
The British businessman has agreed to surrender Avira, his private yacht, and is barred from even visiting it. In order to move about the United States on his private plane he must notify his destination and reason to the New York prosecution. He was ultimately ordered to avoid any direct or indirect contact with three witnesses from this case.
The press release of the New York Court which initiated the “Joe Lewis Case” specifies that "Lewis, aged 86, British citizen, has been charged with three counts of securities fraud under Title 15, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment; three counts of securities fraud under Title 18, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment; and three counts of conspiracy, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment.
“None of this was necessary; Joe Lewis is a wealthy man”, said attorney Damian Williams about the British businessman.