Back in June of 2014, the Rational Group was acquired by Amaya Gaming. The Rational Group was the parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt poker, selling for $4.9 billion to Amaya. The stock of Amaya Gaming, traded in Toronto under AYA saw an increase in value by 50% in the days before the transaction between the Rational Group and Amaya. This increase alerted the authorities of Canada and an investigation began. Just one day after the acquisition was announced to the public, the stock of Amaya rose yet another 30%.
It has been announced today that the investigation has been completed and the Autorté des Marchés Financiers, AMF, has officially filed charges in the case. The AMF is the securities regulator of Quebec who has now filed 23 charges of insider trading, of which five of the charges are against David Baazov, the Chief Executive Officer of Amaya Gaming.
Baazov has been accused of aiding with the trades while being in possession of privileged information. He is also charged with influencing or attempting to influence the market price of the Amaya Gaming securities. Another charge is for communicating privileged information. These charges could result in Baazov having to pay a large fine or spend time in jail, as well as for the others charged.
A statement was released by Baazov this morning where he states his innocence and stated that his name would eventually be cleared. In the statement, Baazov commented: “These allegations are false and I intend to vigorously contest these accusations. While I am deeply disappointed with the AMF’s decision, I am highly confident I will be found innocent of all charges.”
The charges were made in relation to the Amaya stock trading which took place from December of 2013 to June of 2014, a total time frame of six months. Louis Morisset is the CEO and President of AMF, who stated that the AMF has made suppressing illegal insider trading and market manipulation a top priority, as this type of conduct profoundly affects public confidence and the integrity of their markets.
The Lead Director of Amaya Gaming, Dave Gadhia, commented on the charges, stating that Baazov has the full support of the board’s independent members and that Amaya conducted their own external internal review which was supervised by the independent board members. This review was looked over thoroughly and no evidence was found that any violations had taken place in regards to Canadian securities laws or regulations. Gadhia further stated that Amaya has not been provided with any new information of which the charges by the AMF are based.
Amaya has stated they are fully cooperating with the AMF and have already given the regulatory agency a large amount of publicly accessible information related to the time frame that the AMF is investigating and a summary of this information will be posted soon at the website of Amaya.
The AMF released an initial press release which named David Baazov, Yoel Altman and Benjamin Ahdoot, a friend of Baazov from childhood, with charges. An additional press release was sent out a short time later naming 13 individuals who will face a suspension of trading privileges due to ties to insider trading involvement with Amaya. The list includes:
- Josh Baazov Brother to David Baazov
- Craig Levett
- Nahtalie Bensmihan
- Isam Mansour
- Mona Kassfy
- Allie Mansour
- John Chatzidakis
- Eleni Psicharis
- Alain Anawati
- Karl Fallenbaum
- Earl Levett
- Feras Antoon
- Mark Wael Antoon