Evidence Mounts Against Former Amaya Boss David Baazov
In Canada, one of the financial watchdogs looking into allegations of insider trading involving David Baazov, the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for online gaming firm Amaya, has reportedly identified a pattern of kickbacks and illegal deals dating back up to six years.
According to a report from the French-language La Presse newspaper, the Autorite Des Marches Financiers securities regulator found that “several agreements were reached” between Baazov and numerous individuals including his older brother Josh and former business partner Craig Levett for “the payment of dividends” in the form of cash, checks and luxury items such as a Rolex watch.
The Quebec regulator reportedly explained that these arrangements had been “negotiated before the offenses” occurred and displayed a “high level of organization and sophistication” that involved e-mail exchanges laying out the specifics of each share transaction so that those involved could better calculate the exact amount of compensation they would receive.
Baazov is Toronto-listed Amaya’s largest stockholder with more than 24.5 million shares, which represents nearly 17% of its circulating stock, and resigned last month after taking an unpaid leave of absence in March. He faces five charges of insider trading stemming from his firm’s purchase of Rational Group for $4.9 billion with authorities alleging that he used private information when trading shares for the company from late 2013 to mid-2014.
La Presse reported that the Autorite Des Marches Financiers had located an e-mail dated June 25, 2014, from Isam Mansour, who had worked as a consultant with Levett and Josh Baazov at a company named Blackbelt, that indicated a deal had been initiated to kickback 10% of any profits after tax and costs made via insider share trading on Amaya’s imminent acquisition of Rational Group.
The regulator reportedly additionally discovered that a similar arrangement involved the early-2013 purchase of WMS Industries for $1.5 billion by rival gaming technology firm Scientific Games Corporation. The Autorite Des Marches Financiers allege that the Baazov brothers held a meeting on the morning of January 16, 2013, after which Josh exchanged texts with Levett. In cooperation with his wife, brother and other confidants, Levett subsequently went on to make trades that netted over $170,000 before sending an e-mail to Josh entitled “WMS” in which he wrote that “this is what we owe to your brother. I have a check for him tomorrow”.
The younger Baazov has maintained his innocence ever since the insider trading accusations first emerged in March and declared through spokesperson Ian Robertson that he was “was ‘”innocent” of all charges and had done “nothing wrong” and was now “eager to present his defense in court”.