Ex-Amaya Chief David Baazov, Facing Securities Fraud Charges, to Go to Trial in November
Posted on: March 1, 2017, 11:50h.
Last updated on: March 1, 2017, 11:56h.
David Baazov, the man who ran gaming operator Amaya Inc. until just about one year ago, will stand trial in a Quebec court on November 20, charged with five counts of securities fraud. The date was decided at a hearing on Tuesday by Judge Claude Leblond.
The trial is expected to last around 13 weeks, according to lawyers involved in the case, who spoke to Canada’s Globe and Mail. Baazov’s accuser, the Quebec securities regulator AMF, plans to call some 50 witnesses to testify.
The AMF filed penal proceedings against Baazov last March, following a 15-month investigation into suspicious trading of Amaya’s stock in the lead-up to the announcement of its $4.9 billion acquisition of PokerStars back in June of 2014.
Baazov and two others individuals were charged with, among other things, “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.”
The AMF contends that the Amaya co-founder was at the top of an insider trading pyramid, and that he took kickbacks for leaking information to a “sophisticated network” comprising his brother, their business acquaintances, and other friends and family members.
It’s alleged that the group, consisting of 13 people, pulled in around $1.5 million in profit from trading stocks prior to at least six takeover deals, going back to Amaya’s acquisition of Cryptologic in 2010.
Baazov and his co-defendant, Benjamin Ahdoot, a childhood friend, and Yoel Altman, an adviser to Amaya, submitted “not guilty” pleas in writing last year. Three companies, charged with similar counts, Diocles Capital Inc, Sababa Consulting Inc., and 2374879 Ontario Inc., have also submitted formal “not guilty” pleas.
Among those taking the stand to testify will be employees of Canaccord Genuity Securities, Amaya’s investment banker, as well as “an anonymous informant.”
Because the proceedings will be held under provisions of Quebec’s securities act, the trial will take place predominantly in French, according to The Globe and Mail. It’s understood that since many witnesses involved are not native French speakers, efforts will be made to assign a bilingual judge to the case and for interpreters to offer simultaneous translation, adding an extra layer of intrigue to an already intriguing legal case.
During an administrative hearing last October, Baazov lawyer Sophie Melchers appeared to expose holes in the AMF case, getting one regulatory investigator to admit, under cross-examination, that evidence against her client was purely circumstantial.
Baazov and his co-accused each face up to five years in prison and fines of $5,000 to $5 million, per charge, if found guilty. Baazov himself has said he will contest the charges vigorously in court.
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