David Baazov Avoids Insider Trading Charges After Judge Tosses Case

June 8th, 2018 | by Jason Reynolds

Former Amaya CEO David Baazov will avoid charges of insider trading linked to the $4.9 billion sale of PokerStars thanks to a major error by the Autorite des marches financiers (AMF).

David Baazov.

David Baazov has avoided insider trading charges after a Quebec judge upheld a stay of motion in the high-profile trial. (Image: rds.ca)

Following a May 21 call for a stay of proceedings in Baazov’s high profile trial, Judge Salvatore Mascia has moved to dismiss the case. The decision comes after the AMF accidentally shared 320,000 confidential documents with the defense team.

AMF Blunders Clear the Way for Baazov

As per Baazov’s defense team, the misstep was compounded by contradictory evidence provided by the AMF when the first hearings took place in April 2018. With Baazov’s lawyers arguing that returning the confidential documents to the AMF would hinder their case, a motion was filed to abandon the trial.

Judge Mascia concurred and delivered what has been described as a “stunning” but necessary decision.

“When the circumstances justify it, the courts must stay the proceedings. This is only to be used in the most dramatic cases. There must be no other acceptable solution that might right the wrongs. In this case, do the accumulation of mistakes require a stay of proceedings? Yes,” reads a June 6 press release quoting Judge Mascia’s verdict.

The collapse of the case essentially means that Baazov has avoided multiple charges grouped under the umbrella of insider trading. When charges were filed against the Canadian entrepreneur back in March 2016, the AMF argued that Baazov used his position to influence the markets ahead of Amaya’s $4.9 billion takeover of PokerStars.

A Complex Case Comes to an End

When the 2014 deal took place, it made Amaya the largest gaming operator in the world, but suspected irregularities prompted Quebec’s security regulatory to investigate the transaction. Amaya’s Montreal headquarters was raided in December 2014 before charges were brought against Baazov and a collection of associations.

Following the 2016 charges, Baazov stepped down position as CEO but subsequently announced his intention to buy the company. Despite already owing 17.2 percent of the publicly listed company, Baazov wanted to take full control with the help of an unnamed consortium of backers.

The bid was estimated to be worth $6.7 billion but it eventually fell apart due to the ongoing legal proceedings.

While that ship has now sailed, Baazov is now free to continue operating in the gaming sector. Although he hasn’t announced his intentions moving forward, the ex-Amaya boss used his June 6 press release to say that he was “happy with the decision” but didn’t have any further comments at this time.


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