Amaya CEO David Baazov charged with insider trading

Shares in PokerStars’ parent company Amaya Gaming plunging this afternoon

David Baazov, president and CEO of PokerStars’ parent company Amaya Gaming, has been hit with five insider trading charges this week by Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) – the body authorised by Quebec’s government to regulate the province’s financial markets.

Baazov, who is now a significant shareholder of Canadian-based Amaya, is facing these five charges “for aiding trades while in possession of privileged information, influencing or attempting to influence the market price of the securities of Amaya Inc, and communicating privileged information” according to a statement made by the AMF.

The report goes on to list Amaya’s $4.9 billion takeover of online poker giants PokerStars and Full Tilt back in 2014 as the main focus of the investigation. Shares of Amaya had actually surged months prior to the massive acquisition of Rational Group, with little evidence as to why.

Benjamin Ahdoot, a childhood friend of Baazov, and Amaya adviser Yoel Altman are also facing charges “for trading while in possession of privileged information and influencing or attempting to influence the market price of the securities of Amaya.”

Some 13 others, including the brother of Baazov, Josh Baazov, are also accused by the AMF of trading on inside information about potential mergers and acquisitions involving Amaya. In total, a profit in the range of $1.5 million is alleged to have been earned on the transactions in question made between 2011 and 2016.

These allegations are false and I intend to vigorously contest these accusations”, Baazov stated in his defence. “While I am deeply disappointed with the AMF’s decision, I am highly confident I will be found innocent of all charges.”

Despite this, the company’s shares have dropped some $19.95 today (March 23rd) in price as a result of the investigation reaching the public.

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