The erstwhile CEO of Amaya Gaming David Baazov has again asserted his innocence with respect to the insider trading charges filed against him by the Quebecian securities regulator Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) after an investigator admitted that there was no direct proof that Baazov was passing on confidential information to others.
Baazov was charged earlier this year of leaking privileged company information related to several of Amaya Inc’s mergers to his brother Josh Baazov and another individual named Craig Levett. He has strongly denied the allegations. Amaya Inc, is the parent company of PokerStars, the biggest online poker website in the world.
Xavier Saint-Pierre, an AMF investigator admitted that there was only circumstantial evidence that Baazov had passed on confidential information regarding three of the seven deals under AMF’s scrutiny. He revealed this under cross examination by Baazov’s lawyer Sophie Melchers of Norton Rose Fulbright as part of court proceedings involving the review of the cease-trade orders issued to those accused in the case.
In a statement Baazov said,
Today was the first step in setting the record straight. I would like to reiterate that I did not receive any money, gifts or anything for that matter as it relates to the trading by any of these people in any securities. I look forward to being exonerated and putting this behind me
Court proceedings are revealing for the first time the nature of evidence against Baazov. It highlights the difficulties faced by regulators worldwide to provide definitive evidence of malpractice in cases related to insider trading.
According to the AMF, Baazov and others involved in alleged insider trading netted around $1.5 million as profits from illegal trades based on privileged information made ahead of Amaya’s takeover deals that included the purchase of Cryptologic Ltd and $4 billion takeover of the Rational Group. Allegedly those involved at lower levels received around 10 percent of the profits in the form of kickbacks.
The AMF has based its case on phone records and emails and other proof like trading records. Saint-Pierre acknowledged that there was a lack of clear information as to what was said in the phone calls. Email records are also inconclusive as they do not directly indicate Baazov’s culpability.
Saint-Pierre also said that investigators had been unable to obtain Baazov’s phone during AMF’s raid on Baazov’s office in 2014. Investigators later realized that Baazov had changed his phone. During the proceedings Melchers highlighted the gaps in AMF’s case against Baazov and stated that AMF was making its case based on selective information. The hearing is set to resume on October 4.