Canadian based Amaya Inc, the parent company to online poker giant PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker received a lot of negative publicity in March after Quebec Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) alleged that it’s CEO David Baazov, his brother and other senior executives at Amaya Inc were involved with insider trading.
The allegations focused on Amaya Inc’s acquisition of the Rational Group in 2014 who were then the owners of PokerStars. The AMF filed five charges against Baazov after conducting a lengthy investigation which included raiding the company’s headquarters in Montreal.
Baazov denied all of those allegations and vowed to fight those charges in court. He decided to step down temporarily from his CEO post till the charges were dropped. Baazov and his legal representatives filed a not guilty plea on all five charges on May 2nd. If Baazov is found guilty, he could be forced to pay a fine up to CA$ 5 million and could also spend up to five years in prison depending on the sentencing.
The AMF has alleged that David Baazov, Josh Baazov, Earl Levett, Craig Levett and Nathalie Bensmihan are some of the key personnel involved in insider trading. However prosecutors will know that it is extremely hard for them to get a ruling in insider trading cases especially for one that deals with the gambling industry.
The gambling industry is an extremely small and close knit industry and has proven on many occasions that it is hard to keep secrets as news travels fast. Amaya Inc’s share prices went up before the acquisition could be announced and this was one of the key factors that led investigators to believe that insider trading took place.
However Baazov and his defence team will not find it hard to build a case that the information could have been leaked from a number of different sources. There is no indication as of now if the authorities will make Baazov a deal for an out of court settlement and whether Baazov would even consider such a deal. His main priority will be to clear his name of all allegations and get back to being the CEO of Amaya Inc.
Amaya Inc’s board has made it clear that they support Baazov by earlier stating that they “found no evidence of any violations of Canadian securities laws or regulations. The independent members of the board received and reviewed the information and concluded that no action should be taken. We have not been provided with any new information upon which the AMF’s allegations of infractions are based”.