A British billionaire who owns properties on Commercial Wharf in the North End shared insider stock tips about two Boston biotechs with his private pilots and acquaintances, helping them make millions in illegal gains, according to federal prosecutors.
The alleged trades included shares of two local biotechs, Solid Biosciences of Charlestown and Tango Therapeutics, which is headquartered in the Fenway.
A federal grand jury in New York indicted billionaire businessman Joseph Lewis, who owns the Tottenham Hotspur soccer club in the British Premier League, on 19 counts including securities fraud, conspiracy and making false statements.
“Joe Lewis is a wealthy man. But as we allege, he used insider information as a way to compensate his employees or to shower gifts on his friends and lovers,” U.S. Attorney Damien Williams announced Tuesday. “It’s classic corporate corruption.”
The recipients of the stock tips included two pilots of Lewis’ private aircraft, each of whom received $500,000 loans from Lewis to buy stocks, prosecutors allege.
Lewis’ attorney, David M. Zornow, said Lewis vigorously contests the charges.
“The government has made an egregious error in judgment in charging Mr. Lewis, an 86-year-old man of impeccable integrity and prodigious accomplishment,” Zornow said in a statement provided to the Associated Press.
Lewis invested in the companies through a biotech hedge fund he owns, according to the indictment.
The hedge fund acquired a significant stake in Solid Bioscience stock in July 2019 and signed a confidentiality agreement prohibiting the sharing of non-public information about a planned clinical trial. Lewis advised a female acquaintance and the two pilots to invest in the Charlestown company’s stock, and the three individuals eventually sold their investments for profits, including an $849,000 profit gain by his girlfriend, the indictment states.
In July 2020, Lewis’ hedge fund created BCTG Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), which began negotiating a merger with Boston-based Tango Therapeutics in January 2021. Lewis allegedly violated a non-disclosure agreement by successfully urging the two pilots and a pair of personal assistants to buy BCTG stock before the deal closed in April 2021.
Tango Therapetics and Solid Biosciences did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Lewis’s Florida-based real estate company, Tavistock Development Group, acquired a 90 percent interest in two parcels on Commercial Wharf in the North End in 2017. In 2011, Tavistock Restaurants acquired the Back Bay Restaurant Group which owns the Joe’s American Bar and Grill, Abe & Louie’s and Atlantic Fish brands.
In 2019, Tavistock floated plans at a community meeting for a 140-room hotel and inn on Commercial Wharf. The firm never filed any formal plans with the Boston Planning & Development Agency.
And in 2022, Tavistock Development received BPDA approval for redevelopment of the Crate & Barrel-anchored property at 761-793 Boylston St. for a 9-unit housing and office project.
Lewis’ $250 million yacht, which he reportedly uses as a residence, was spotted docked at the Boston Yacht Haven next to his Commercial Wharf properties in 2013.