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Former Amaya CEO David Baazov Back In Court
David Baazov, the Canadian businessman and former head of Amaya Gaming (now The Stars Group), made his first appearance in a Quebec court on December 11th to answer to accusations of insider trading by federal authorities.
The charges allege that Baazov used his prior knowledge of Amaya’s planned takeover of the PokerStars brand in August of 2014 to illegally profit in the stock market. Should he be found guilty, the potential penalty could go as high as $5m in fines and even five years behind bars.
Verdict Could Take Six Months
The complex nature of the case is unprecedented in the history of Canadian insider trading laws. For starters, the estimated value of the deal when Amaya purchased the Rational Group (which owned the rights to the PokerStars brand, amongst other assets) is $5b.
In addition, providing that someone traded on insider information is already difficult enough. Add to that the fact that Baazov seems to have gone to great lengths to cover his tracks, and you have the recipe for a long and protracted legal battle.
Although legal experts have opined that there is definitely a strong case to be made by the authorities, it is not going to be easy. For that reason, it’s expected a verdict may not be reached in the case until mid-2018 at the absolute earliest.
Baazov Woes Catalyst For Amaya Re-Brand
Canada is not used to having these kind of high profile cases of financial criminality within its borders. The whole Baazov saga has become such fodder for financial analysts and tabloids alike that Amaya itself was forced to rebrand the company earlier this year.
The new name “The Stars Group” is designed to evoke the flagship PokerStars brand that started this whole mess to begin with. While it’s unclear what Baazov’s ultimate legal fate will be, there’s already little doubt that his name will not soon be forgotten — or exonerated — within the online casino and poker worlds any time soon.