David Baazov, the embattled founder and former CEO of Amaya Gaming, wants the insider trading charges against him thrown out, saying the Canadian securities regulator has so bungled the prosecution that there’s no way has case could be resolved in a timely manner.
According to court documents as reported by the Toronto Globe and Mail, Baazov and his five co-defendants filed a petition in September seeking a stay for the case, which is scheduled to begin in the Court of Quebec on Dec. 11.
One of the biggest insider trading scandals in Canadian history, the case revolves around Amaya’s $4.9 billion purchase of PokerStars in 2014, which attorneys from the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) allege involved illegal activity designed take advantage of manipulated stock prices.
Document Dump, Jordan Delays
Baazov’s initial hearing was scheduled to start on Nov. 20, but the court supposedly granted the slight delay after prosecutors submitted a hard drive full of evidence on Sept. 21. The drive contained 16 million documents and 3.7 terabytes of raw data.
Now with the new court date approaching, Baazov’s lawyers are saying they need more time, at least six months, to properly analyze the files.
While some may scoff at the suggestion at throwing out such a huge case because of evidentiary delays, a recent Supreme Court case known as the Jordan ruling requires that all cases resolve themselves within 18 months of being filed. As of July 2017, this precedent in Canada has resulted in 204 cases (out of 1,766 applications) being dismissed.
The AMF first charged Baazov in March 2016, 20 months ago. The five charges against him include “aiding with trades while in possession of privileged information, influencing or attempting to influence the market price of the securities of Amaya Inc., and communicating privileged information.”
Regulators also charged Benjamin Ahdoot, a friend of Baazov, and Amaya advisor Yoel Altman with insider trading and efforts to manipulate stock market prices. The defendants face both fines and prison time.
The AMF has since opened an investigation into other Baazov associates, including his brother Josh Baazov, alleging that they profited from trades made with privileged information Amaya’s CEO provided. No charges have been filed yet against nearly a dozen subjects of inquiry in what has been dubbed “Project Bronze,” a probe that is still ongoing and has complicated the trial timeline.
Baazov’s legal team contends that the AMF rushed through its investigation in a bid to stop Amaya’s buyout of PokerStars, and that subsequent bungling of evidence collection has resulted in the trial’s stall.
Baazov has since been ousted from the online gaming company he founded, which earlier this year changed their name to The Stars Group, and relocated from Montreal to Toronto.