Amaya Executives Probed for Insider Trading

The Canadian securities watchdog agency has seized documents of high-level executives of Amaya Gaming, including CEO David Baazov (l.), investigating possible insider trading.

Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper reported last week that Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov and CFO Daniel Sebag were among the Amaya executives whose documents were seized by Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), Canada’s securities watchdog, in an investigation into unusual stock trades ahead of Amaya’s acquisition of internet poker giant Rational Group.

A search warrant made public last week reveals that the AMF is probing 20 executives of Amaya, Manulife Securities and Canaccord Genuity Corp. The two securities firms helped facilitate Amaya’s $4.9 billion purchase of Rational, the parent of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.

A Quebec court lifted a publication ban on the search warrant and the affidavit that led to it. According to the affidavit, “The investigation reveals that certain individuals in possession of privileged information transmitted that information to several people. These people then took advantage of that information and traded on Amaya shares.”

Amaya’s stock surged in the weeks leading up to the announcement of the acquisition.

Amaya officials have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and said its own internal investigation revealed nothing in the documents seized that would show otherwise. “The release of the redacted documents presents nothing new to Amaya,” said a statement from the company. “Amaya has previously received the redacted affidavit and reviewed its limited contents and did not contest the court’s decision today. It will wait to see the actual unredacted affidavit, but it does not believe there is a reasonable basis for proceedings against Amaya or its employees.”

Speaking to SBC News, Ben Soave—a retired chief superintendent of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who is on Amaya’s Compliance Committee—said the company performed an exhaustive internal investigation.

“We have thoroughly reviewed the relevant internal activities around its acquisition of Oldford Group and have found no evidence of any violation of Canadian securities laws or regulations including tipping and insider trading by CEO David Baazov and CFO Daniel Sebag,” Soave said. “Additionally, the company has not been provided with any evidence that any executives, directors or employees violated any securities laws or regulations.”