AMF David Baazov Charges Expand, as Quebec Regulator Alleges Insider Trading Network Spanned More Than Five Years

David Baazov insider trading investigation deepens

New details have come to light in the David Baazov insider trading case, brought by Quebec’s AMF charges, which allege systematic sharing of privileged information among the Amaya CEO’s close inner circle. (Baazov is seen here speaking at the G2E Conference in Las Vegas in 2014). (Image: Erik Verduzco/reviewjournal.com)

Amaya CEO David Baazov’s insider trading charges now include alleged infractions dating back to late 2010, according to AMF documents obtained by Le Journal de Montreal. AMF stands for Autorité des Marchés Financiers, Quebec’s regulatory arm for securities, trading, and other financial markets in the province.

New details have emerged of the scale and scope of the investigation against Baazov and his alleged accomplices, a list that includes his brother Josh, as well as various friends and business associates.

According to the documents, Baazov is accused of regularly and systematically leaking details of Amaya acquisitions to these connections prior to those deals being publicly announced.

The documents claim Baazov had several conversations with his brother Josh in late 2010 about the forthcoming acquisition of Canadian online gambling pioneer Cryptologic. Josh Baazov then allegedly called an associate of the two brothers, Craig Levett, who made multiple purchases of Cryptologic stock.

Amaya eventually acquired Cryptologic in late 2011 for a 52 percent premium on its value on the NASDAQ of the previous day.

Pornographer Allegedly Profited

Le Journal de Montreal says that this pattern was repeated for more than five years and involved six other business. Amaya has had an ambitious mergers and acquisitions strategy over the past five or so years, acquiring Chartwell, Ongame, Cadillac Jack, and Diamond Game Enterprises, as well as Cryptologic and the Oldford Group.

The AMF estimates that the alleged conspirators may have profited up to $1.5 million from illegal securities trading, with the biggest profits stemming from the purchase of the Oldford Group by Amaya in 2014.

According to the documents, in February 2013, Josh Baazov was party to communication between David Baazov and his lawyer on an “imminent transaction” relating to WMS Industries (that year, WMS was acquired by Scientific Games for $1.42 billion).

As a result of this information, Levett and members of his family bought hundreds of thousands of shares in WMS. Shortly afterward, Josh Baazov received two checks totaling $32,100 marked “gift,” says the AMF. Another beneficiary appears to have been pornographer Feras Antoon, whose company, Mindgeek, runs one of the biggest online porn networks in the world. Antoon made more than $83,000 from the leaked information, according to the AMF.

Charges Denied

Baazov is facing five charges of insider trading, along with Benjamin Ahdoot, who is Amaya’s VP of government projects and a childhood of the Baazovs. Yoel Altman, who is described as a longtime strategic advisor to David Baazov, is also charged in the insider trading case.

Thirteen others, including Josh Baazov, Antoon, Levett and his wife Nathalie Bensmihan, and Levett’s brother Earl Levett, last week found themselves the subject of search warrants and freeze-and-cease-trade orders.

David Baazov denies all five charges against him and has said he will contest them “vigorously” in court.

Philip Conneller
Written by
Philip Conneller
As part of the team that launched Bluff Magazine back in 2004, and then as Editor of Bluff Europe, Philip Conneller has (probably) written thousands of articles about poker and has travelled the globe interviewing the greatest players in the world, not to mention some of the sexiest celebrities known to man in some of the world’s sexiest destinations. The highlight of his career, however, was asking Phil Ivey (as a joke) how to play jacks, and emerging none-the-wiser. Philip once won $20,000 with 7-2 offsuit. He has been told off for unwittingly playing Elton John’s piano on two separate occasions, on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean. He became a writer because he is a lousy pianist. He lives in London where he spends his time agonizing about Arsenal football club, yet in Wenger he trusts.

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