Paul Phua and David Baazov are proof that if you never let the naysayers get you down, you can sometimes beat them at their own game.
Of course, it helps if you have arguably the world’s best defense attorney and/or run a company that encompasses the world’s largest online poker network, but we digress.
It’s been almost a year since FBI officials arrested Paul Phua and cronies in their villas at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip on suspicions of running an illegal World Cup sports betting ring.
In July of 2014, investigators disabled Internet to the villas and entered the residences posing as computer technician repairmen while wearing portable surveillance cameras.
The evidence, which was later determined to have been obtained without a proper search warrant, was highly controversial in nature. After months of going back and forth,US District Judge for Nevada Andrew Gordon ruled that the footage wasn’t admissible in court.
“Permitting the government to create the need for the occupant to invite a third party into his or her home would effectively allow the government to conduct warrantless searches of the vast majority of residents and hotel rooms in America,” Judge Gordon wrote in his ruling.
Though the search captured what looked like Phua and associates allegedly accepting illegal bets from the villas, the matter in which the evidence was collected ultimately made it void regardless.
Also alleged to have ties with the 14K Triad, an organized crime network like the mob based in Hong Kong, Phua is worth millions and is well-known in high-stakes poker circles as a high roller. Now he’s free to return to his home country on his $48 million private jet, a notion defense attorney David Chesnoff, the go-to lawyer for celebrities and the mega-rich, says reinstated Phua’s belief in the American court system.
“Mr. Phua’s courageous and principled stand helps to ensure personal liberty for all of us,” Chesnoff said in lawyer speak. “He had faith in the integrity of the federal court, and we are gratified that he can go home to his family.”
Ever since Amaya stock skyrocketed amidst rumors the company was acquiring the world’s two largest online poker networks, PokerStars and Full Tilt, investigators have been probing to see whether anyone related to the $4.9 billion sale participated in any possible insider trading.
Headquartered in Quebec, Canadian financial market regulator Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) was the first to inquire regarding the trading leading up to the public announcement. Last December, AMF officials seized documents and communications from executives and employees, as well as communications with outside investors and businesses.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), an American corporation dedicated to investor protection, also launched its own investigation in April. And while Phua’s yearlong case has basically come to a close, Amaya’s seems to be just getting started.
This week AMF said in a news release, “The investigation involves employees of Amaya, including David Baazov, chief executive officer of the corporation, and Daniel Sebag, chief financial officer of the corporation.” However, the AMF added that no legal proceedings against Amaya or any individuals had been initiated.
The fact that Nasdaq recently accepted Amaya to trade on its exchange could signal the company did no wrongdoing, as the stock market heavily investigates potential listings before inclusion. But as we should all know by now, Wall Street doesn’t always play by the rules.