Amaya CEO pleads not guilty to securities charges

4 May 2016
Six weeks after claiming innocence, beleaguered Amaya Gaming Group CEO David Baazov made it official on Monday when he pleaded not guilty to insider trader charges filed against him and his business associates in March by Quebec securities regulator Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).

Amaya Gaming Group CEO David Baazov

Amaya Gaming Group CEO David Baazov

AMF spokesperson Sylvain Theberge confirmed to the Canadian Press that Baazov, along with associates Yoel Altman and Benjamin Ahdoot, and three other companies (Diocles Capital Inc., Sababa Consulting Inc. and 2374879 Ontario Inc), formally submitted written "not guilty" pleas over the last two weeks in response to the 23 insider trading charges levied against them. Each charge carries a maximum fine of up to $5 million, plus up to five years in prison.

Theberge added that the case will be forwarded to Quebec court for the selection of a judge and setting trial dates.

In March, AMF said in a statement that the transgressions took place between December 2013 and June 2014. Amaya, the world's largest online gaming company, acquired PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker from the Rational Group for $4.9 billion in June 2014.

Baazov immediately denied the allegations and, in a statement, Amaya said it "believes they are without merit and expects Mr. Baazov will be fully exonerated."

A few days later, Amaya announced that Baazov would take a voluntary "indefinite paid leave of absence" in order to "focus on preparing an offer to acquire Amaya and to avoid a distraction for the company" while he responds to the allegations.