Ex-CEO of Canada online poker firm free and clear following dismissal of insider trading allegations.
After more than two years, David Baazov‘s prognostication that he would be cleared of all insider trading charges against him has come true. Earlier this month, Quebec Judge Salvatore Mascia dismissed the insider trading case against Baazov and two co-defendants, granting the defence’s motion for a stay of proceedings after the prosecution fumbled hundreds of thousands of case documents.
Ex-CEO of Canada Online Poker Firm Off the Hook
In March of 2016, then-CEO of Amaya Inc. (now The Stars Group), David Baazov, was charged with insider trading. Quebec’s securities regulator, Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), alleged that Baazov, two other defendants, Yoel Altman and Benjamin Ahdoot, and three related companies, had engaged in illegal trading practices to raise the necessary capital to complete the 2014 acquisition of Rational Group; parent company of the world’s largest online poker room, PokerStars, and its sister-site, Full Tilt.
Soon after, Baazov temporarily stepped down from his CEO position with the company. Then in August of that year, he formerly resigned from the role to focus on the precarious legal matter before him. All throughout the process, he maintained his innocence.
“I look forward to being exonerated and putting this behind me,” he told reporters in September of that year.
Months went by, and the evidence continued to mount. Things were looking bleak for the man who built a multi-billion dollar online gambling company from the ground floor up, personally negotiating a multitude of acquisitions that saw Amaya grow from a minuscule gaming company to the world’s largest iGaming firm in a matter of just 10 years (2004-2014).
Third Time’s the Charm in Baazov Case
The defence team filed for a stay of proceedings three times throughout the proceedings. On the first occasion, the prosecution was accused of failing to turn over evidence in a timely manner. The judge rejected the motion, and the trial continued.
On the second attempt, following yet another delay in the start of proceedings, the defence claimed that prosecutors were taking entirely too long to put their case together. Again, the judge waved off the motion, and the case continued.
Then, just a few weeks ago, a brilliant light appeared at the end of Baazov’s long and tedious tunnel. The prosecution bobbled a great deal of private documents, delivering them into the hands of the defence—320,000 documents that were highly classified; never meant to be seen by any other eyes.
Not only were these documents inappropriately given to the defence, the prosecution—realizing its tremendous error—pleaded for their return. Instead, the defence immediately filed its third motion for a stay of proceedings, arguing that the prosecution had once again, and most grievously, fumbled evidence.
While the exoneration Baazov predicted wasn’t exactly the end result, he is no less free and clear of what has been dubbed the largest insider trading case in the history of the Canadian court system.
On Wednesday, June 6, 2018, after two weeks of deliberation in the matter, Judge Mascia acquiesced to the defendants’ motion. All charges were dismissed against the former Canada online poker giant’s CEO, both co-defendants, and the three companies accused in the case.
Prosecutors Weigh Pertinence of Appeal
Disappointed in the abrupt dismissal of a case they had spent more than two years gathering over 10 million documents to prosecute, the AMF may not be ready to give up just yet.
“We are going to analyze the judgment very closely as well as assessing the pertinence of filing an appeal,” said the regulator in a statement following the judge’s decision.