Prosecutors: Baazov bought Amaya stock to boost share price ahead of PokerStars deal

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Quebec securities regulators have shed more light on their insider trading case against former Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov.

On Sunday, the Globe & Mail reported that the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) had accused Baazov, fellow Amaya exec Benjamin Ahdoot and financial advisor Yoel Altman of conspiring to pump up Amaya’s stock ahead of the company’s 2014 purchase of the Rational Group, the parent company of online poker giant PokerStars.

The G&M reported that AMF’s original trial book dated May 15, 2017 indicated that Baazov and his co-accused had expressed concern regarding a one-third slump in Amaya’s share price following a disappointing earnings report in April 2014. In a bid to boost the price, the accused agreed to a major buyback of Amaya shares.

The AMF claims to have emails indicating that Amaya transferred C$1.4m to Diocles, an investment company controlled by Altman, who used the money to buy up Amaya stock while subsequently billing Amaya for ‘consulting services’ in the same amount. Adhoot transferred C$200k of his own money to Diocles, which was similarly reimbursed.

The AMF noted that these share purchases were going on while all three of the accused were aware that Amaya was negotiating the Rational Group acquisition. Altman also made his own Amaya share purchases, with Diocles ultimately purchasing a total of C$2.25m of Amaya stock in April and May 2014, while the PokerStars deal was officially announced in June.

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