Baazov Pleads Not Guilty to Insider Trading Charges, Trial Date to Be Set

Posted on: May 4, 2016, 04:08h. 

Last updated on: May 4, 2016, 04:08h.

David Baazov pleads not guilty
Baazov on Trial: Amaya CEO pleads not guilty to fraud charges and has vowed to contest them vigorously. (Image: sharpmagazine.com)

David Baazov, Chairman, and CEO of Amaya Inc has pleaded not guilty to five counts of securities fraud, according to the Quebec Regulator, Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).

The AMF filed penal proceedings against Baazov in March following a 15-month investigation into the suspicious trading of Amaya’s stock in the lead-up to the announcement of its $4.9 billion acquisition of PokerStars and other Oldford Group assets.

Charges against Baazov included “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.”

AMF spokesman Sylvain Theberge said that Baazov, along with his co-accused, had formally submitted their pleas in writing in the past couple of weeks. The case will now be sent to Quebec court for the setting of trial dates and selection of a judge.

Co-Accused Enter Not Guilty Pleas

Baazov stands accused with two other individuals Amaya, Yoel Altman and Benjamin Ahdoot, and three companies, Diocles Capital Inc., Sababa Consulting Inc. and 2374879 Ontario Inc. All parties have pleaded not guilty, said the AMF.

Ahdoot is Amaya’s VP of government projects and a childhood friend of Baazov’s. Together, they formed a tech company in the nineties which got into trouble for failing to pay copying levies for the audio discs it had sold in contravention of copyright law.

Altman, meanwhile, is a chartered accountant who has been described as a “long-time strategic adviser,” to Baazov.

The AMF recently said that the charges relate to incidents have occurred between 2011 and 2016, which means that at least some of the alleged insider trading and stock manipulation predates the Oldford acquisition significantly.

Baazov Faces Five Years

The regulator also announced that 13 more individuals are suspected of enriching themselves while trading in possession of privileged information, or leaking such information. Many of these individuals include members of Baazov’s close circle of business partners, family and friends.

The defendants face fines of $5,000 to $5 million per charge and up to five years in prison if convicted, Theberge said.

Baazov, who had been preparing a bid to take the company private at the time he was formally charged, announced at the end of March that he would be taking paid leave so he could address the case against him.

“I believe that stepping down in the short term will help to avoid distraction for the company and its management while I vigorously contest all allegations made against me and pursue my bid to acquire the company,” he said.