Baazov charged with insider trading over PokerStars takeover in 2014

Chief executive of Montreal-based Amaya Inc, and two of his associates have been charged by Quebec’s securities regulator with insider trading over the company’s takeover of PokerStars in 2014, local media reports.

David Baazov, chief executive and founder of Amaya Inc was charged by  Autorité des marchés financiers, Quebec’s securities regulator, for “aiding with trades while in possession of privileged information, influencing or attempting to influence the market price of the securities of Amaya” and “communicating privileged information,” in relation to the 2014 takeover of PokerStars.

Baazov has denied the charges.

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

AMF says the investigation is continuing and that it may file other charges. AMF chief executive officer Louis Morisset said “We have made suppressing illegal insider trading and market manipulation a top priority, as this type of conduct profoundly affects public confidence and the integrity of our markets.”

In Jun. 2014, Amaya saw its stock double more than C$14 a share ahead of its PokerStars deal, the AMF, and federal authorities had been working with U.S. regulators since then to probe why so many investors were keen to get behind Amaya’s then struggling stock.

Others charged by AMF including  Benjamin Ahdoot, a childhood friend of Baazov and Amaya manager, as well as Toronto business associate Yoel Altman.

According to Reuters, Amaya’s U.S.-listed shares fell as much as 27.7 percent to $10.30 in early trading.