Amaya Inc., the company that owns PokerStars and Full Tilt, is losing CEO David Baazov for “an indefinite period of time.” Baazov is voluntarily stepping down after Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) – a Quebec-based security regulator – filed charges against him last week for insider trading.
The five charges arose from a $4.0 billion deal that allowed Amaya to acquire the two online poker companies. The accusations 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,” a statement said.
During his leave, Baazov will remain a member of Amaya’s Board of Directors.
Despite these complications, Baazov is still planning to offer Amaya an all-cash offer to take the company off the market. Indeed, the paid leave will apparently allow him to “focus on preparing an offer to acquire Amaya and to avoid a distraction for the company while he responds to certain allegations made against him by the AMF.”
Added Baazov in a statement, “I continue to be dedicated to doing the right thing for Amaya and all its stakeholders … 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.”
The investigation into Baazov began in December 2014 when The Royal Canadian Mounted Police attempted to gather information regarding Amaya’s acquisition of Rational Group, the parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt.
Ahead of the sale, Amaya stock doubled. Following, it rose an additional 30-percent.
Amaya has denied the allegations against its CEO.
“David Baazov has the full support of the independent members of the board,” said Dave Gadhia, Amaya’s Lead Director and an independent board member, in a statement. “As noted previously, Amaya conducted an external internal review, supervised by its independent board members with the assistance of external legal counsel from Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Canada and Greenberg Traurig LLP in the U.S., which thoroughly reviewed the relevant internal activities surrounding the Oldford Group acquisition. This review found no evidence of any violations of Canadian securities laws or regulations.”
Thirteen other individuals tied to the investigation lost their trading privileges; charges have also been filed against Benjamin Ahdoot, Yoel Altman, Diocles Capital Inc., and Sababa Consulting Inc.
Divyesh Gadhia has been appointed as interim chairman and Rafi Ashkenazi as interim CEO.
Baazov has amassed an estimated $800 million fortune, according to Forbes.
(Photo credit: PokerUpdate.com)
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