Despite his best efforts to avoid prosecution, ex-Amaya CEO David Baazov will face trial in Montreal on charges of insider trading, the court date set for December 11th in what has been described as ‘potentially the biggest insider trading scandal in Canadian history’.
As reported by my colleague Charles Retmuller last week, Baazov failed in his bid to have the charges thrown out because of delays in the case and will now face a ‘plethora of evidence’ which could lead to prison time.
Baazov’s woes date back to 2014 when the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), an organization responsible for financial regulation in Quebec, started to investigate the former Amaya man after the Canadian group – who this year changed their name to the Stars Group after huge bouts of bad publicity connected to their PokerStars dealings– bought out PokerStars and Full Tilt in a $4.9million deal.
The AMF investigation Montreal-based Amaya’s acquisition of PokerStars owner Oldford Group Ltd in 2014. At that time Baazov – who has plead not guilty to all charges - was Amaya’s chief executive officer, although he has since resigned as CEO and abandoned several plans to take the company private.
It is alleged by prosecutors in the case that Baazov and his five co-defendants ‘bought up depressed shares of Amaya stock using insider information about the pending PokerStars purchase’, according to Jon Sofen of Cardschat.com.
One of those charged alongside Baazov, Toronto financier Yoel Altman, was found by AMF investigators to have sent an email to Baazov in 2014 which read, ‘We just need to get ahead of these shorters and prop desk guys like we have done before.’
The e-mail trail is also claimed to show that Amaya transferred C$1.4 million (US $1.1 million) to an investment firm owned by Altman, Diocles, the money allegedly used to purchase Amaya stock.
Altman is also alleged to have used insider information to purchase Amaya shares prior to the deal being made and a childhood friend of Baazov’s, Benjamin Ahdoot, is implicated and has been charged in connection with the ‘non-public material information’ of Amaya’s impending purchase.
Adhoot was also named alongside Baazov in a separate lawsuit this week, the Business Daily Africa newspaper reporting that the pair and fellow former Amaya exec Daniel Sebag along with Amaya’s Kenyan subsidiary, were being sued by the Lion’s Heart Self Help Group as well as one of Amaya’s own directors, Kennedy Odhiambo Nyagudi.