David Baazov Gone for Good1 year ago
It has been announced today that former Chief Executive Officer of Amaya Inc., David Baazov, who voluntarily left the company in March 2016 facing allegations of financial insider trading, has now resigned fully from all positions held with Amaya and now has no remaining connections with the company.
Baazov announced in May 2016 that he intends to plead ‘not guilty’ to all five charges which are levelled against him by the Quebec securities regulator the Autorite des Marches Financiers (AMF) who charged Baazov with "aiding with 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."
Baazov is not the only person facing charges, and other associates, including his brother Josh, are also in trouble. The case is a wide one and extends to Josh Baazov, Craig Levett, Nathalie Bensmihan, Isam Mansour, Mona Kassfy, Allie Mansour, John Chatzidakis, Eleni Psicharis, Alain Anawati, Karl Fallenbaum, Earl Levett, Feras Antoon and Mark Wael Antoon. The AMF alleges that these people “traded while in possession of privileged information or they leaked privileged information about potential mergers and acquisitions involving Amaya inc. in particular.” They have all pleaded, or stated their intention to plead, not guilty.
It is not unusual for CEO’s to be placed on gardening leave and for interim senior officers to be put in place. By placing interim chiefs in charge, the share price of the organisation does not plummet due to a lack of confidence in new permanent leaders due to the knowledge that an interim that does not work out is easily replaced. Once the announcement is made, such as Baazov’s departure today, the interim bosses have been in post long enough for the market to be aware that they now have experience. The announcement of the interim chief officers now being permanent replacements means a reduced chance of a run on the shares of Amaya now that the new senior executives have been in place for some time. In that respect, once Baazov left in March 2016, it was very unlikely that he would ever return to the post.
Amaya have confirmed that Rafi Ashkenazi, who was made interim CEO when Baazov left, now takes over as the permanent CEO of PokerStars whilst Interim Chairman of the Board, Divyesh Gadhia, is now their permanent chairman.
Baazov may still have a future with Amaya, having once said that he planned to buyout the company with an all-cash offer, and it remains unclear if buying the company remains an ambition for him. Surely his first priority must be beating away the criminal charges against him, which, if found guilty, could carry a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of $5 million canadian dollars. I do note, however, that if he can afford to consider an all-cash offer for Amaya, he probably has the money to pay a fine.
It is also worth stating again that nowhere in the legal wranglings are Amaya as a corporation accused of any wrongdoing, so hopefully it’s business as usual for them and for Pokerstars.
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