David Baazov’s trials and tribulations continue

By Caroline Watson
Founder and former chief executive officer at Amaya Inc, David Baazov, has been in hot water since allegations broke regarding insider trading back in 2016.

In 2016, Baazov began his legal battle, facing five charges related to insider trading in the lead up to Amaya’s acquisition of the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands.

Amaya, now known as The Stars Group, officially acquired Oldford Group, which owns PokerStars and Full Tilt operator Rational Group, for $4.9bn in August 2014, and the agreement of the deal was announced in June earlier that year.

The five charges faced by Baazov in particular are for “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”.

At that moment in time, Baazov stated: “Yesterday I was served notice that I would be charged by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers alleging that I engaged in market manipulation of Amaya Inc. shares and that I unlawfully provided non-public information to third parties prior to Amaya's acquisition of the Rational Group Ltd. in 2014.

“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.”

It is has now come to light that Baazov wants the insider trading charges against him thrown out, arguing that due to the Canadian securities regulator’s handling of the prosecution, there’s no way his case could be resolved in a timely manner.

According to court documents, Baazov and his five co-defendants filed a petition in September seeking a stay for the case, which is scheduled to begin in the Court of Quebec on the 11 December.

The initial hearing was scheduled to start on 20 November, but the court was granted a delay after the prosecutors submitted a large amount of evidence in the backend of September. The evidence was a hard drive containing 16 million documents and 3.7 terabytes of raw data.

Baazov’s legal team have now said they need more time, at least six months, to analyse the new evidence.

Even though Baazov’s legal battle is one of Canada’s most high-profile insider trading cases to date, a recent Supreme Court case known as the 'Jordan ruling' requires that all cases resolve themselves within 18 months of being filed.

Baazov’s legal team contends that the AMF rushed through its investigation in a bid to stop Amaya’s buyout of PokerStars, and that subsequent bungling of evidence collection has resulted in the trial’s stall.

Baazov, who once was the sole owner of Amaya, has since reduced his stake in the company to just 3.8%, and resigned his executive positions at the company following the insider trading allegations.

He was replaced as Amaya’s Chief Exec by Rafi Ashkenazi in August last year so that he could avoid distraction while he faced the charges against him.

Whilst you would not be wrong in assuming that this case will be taking up a great deal of Baazov’s time, this is not the only legal issue he’s faced with. In September, Dubai investment company KBC Aldini Capital Ltd. accused him of fraud, saying that CEO Kalani Lal’s name and signature were used fraudulently as part of a proposal by Baazov to take Amaya private in early 2016.

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