Back in mid-2014, Amaya Gaming announced they were acquiring the Rational Group for $4.9 billion. The Rational Group is of course the parent company of online poker giants PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. This was a huge deal and during the process, it was noticed that the stock of Amaya increased by 50% days before the deal. This activity lead to the authorities in Canada to launch an investigation and further suspicion was placed on the company when the stock rose an additional 30% the day after the announcement of the acquisition.
Yesterday, the investigation was concluded as the securities regulator of Quebec, the Autorté des Marchés Financiers, decided to charge individuals with insider trading, including the Chief Executive Officer of Amaya Gaming, David Baazov. The CEO has been charged with aiding trades while in possession of privileged information. Attempting to influence and influencing the market price of Amaya securities has also been accused against Baazov by the AMF. If found guilty, the CEO could face time in jail or have to pay large fines.
After the charges were publicly announced, Baazov made a statement which proclaimed his innocence in the matter. Baazov stated that the allegations were false and that he intends to contest the accusations. He was disappointed in the decision by the AMF and remains confident that he will be found innocent of the charges against him.
Louis Morisset is the AMF President and CEO who stated that the announcement of the charges have made suppressing illegal insider trading and market manipulation a top priority, as the type of conduct involved profoundly affects the public confidence and integrity of their markets.
Amaya Gaming is standing behind Baazov with the Lead Director, Dave Gadhia, stating that the full support of the board’s independent members are behind the CEO. Gadhia pointed out that Amaya conducted an external internal review and found no evidence of wrongdoing, with no violations of the regulations and securities laws of Canada.
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