British billionaire Joe Lewis—the owner of the Tottenham Hotspurs—has become embroiled in an insider trading case. But there’s a surprising side character in the saga: Lewis’s superyacht, Aviva.
The 321-foot vessel was where many of the illicit discussions took place, according to a Bloomberg report on Friday. Lewis, who is based in the Bahamas, used his yacht as a part-time home, welcoming guests like athletes and biotech executives, along with his employees and personal friends. While they were enjoying amenities such as the padel tennis court, the spa, and the movie theater, they are alleged to have also swapped confidential information, leading to Lewis being charged with insider trading and securities fraud earlier this week.
Brought by the U.S. government, the suit alleges that Lewis used his connections to gain access to sensitive intel. He then shared that info with his employees, friends, and lovers so they could benefit financially. At a hearing on Wednesday, Lewis pleaded not guilty; his lawyers didn’t respond to Bloomberg’s request for comment on Thursday.
In one example of such alleged activities, Lewis learned that the oncology company Mirati Therapeutics—in which he owned a stake—had received positive results for a cancer drug. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission complaint, that info was shared over Aviva’s dining table. Lewis then told several associates to buy stock in the company, and when those shares rose following the public reveal of the cancer-drug results, Lewis’s friends and employees sold their shares for a handsome profit.
With a current net worth of $6.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Lewis was able to snap up Aviva in 2017. At the time, it was one of the 25 most valuable superyachts in the world, and the 51st largest yacht. Since Lewis was charged this week, the vessel has left the Bahamas, and early Thursday it was heading away from the U.S. toward Bermuda, according to vessel data cited by Bloomberg.
For his part, Lewis can no longer board the superyacht: He used the ship and his private jet as collateral for a $300 million bail package on Wednesday. So it’s bon voyage to Aviva for now.