Amaya founder and former CEO David Baazov in the News — Weekly Round-up for December 01, 2017

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated Dec 1, 2017

Baazov Lawyers Request Insider Trading Charges Be Dismissed (Update)

The authorities have taken too long to give Baazov his day in court, his lawyers argue

The insider trading charges against former Amaya founder and CEO David Baazov (see previous InfoPowa reports) are set for trial in the Court of Quebec on December 11, but if Baazov’s legal representatives succeed the case will be dismissed on that date.

The charges arise from alleged unethical and illegal exchanges of insider information in the 2014 run-up to Amaya’s spectacular $4.9 billion purchase of Rational Group, since rebranded as The Stars Group,

In a submission filed last month, Baazov’s legal team argued that Quebec securities regulator Autorité des Marchés Financiers has taken far too long to bring the case before the court. The regulator charged Baazov and two other individuals with 23 counts of insider trading back in March 2016.

The first trial date set for the defendants was November 20, but it is claimed that the prosecution only provided the defence with a vast amount of documentary evidence from an associated case against the defendants late in September.

The late delivery of such a massive amount of documentation presented problems for the defence, giving it insufficient time to thoroughly examine and interrogate the data, the defence team has pleaded, noting that technology specialists have estimated it will take up to five weeks just to organise the material into a useful form. This delay has prejudiced the defence, the lawyers suggest.

Sophie Melchers, head of the legal team defending Baazov, is also unhappy with the “precipitous” manner in which the case against her client was launched, claiming that this was done “…before the investigation was sufficiently advanced, and without a significant amount of relevant evidence being gathered, much less analyzed.”

Melchers pointed to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling – the Jordan ruling – from July 2016 regarding Canadian citizens’ right to timely justice. This imposes a deadline of 18 months between the filing of charges and the commencement of trial proceedings in a provincial court.

Melchers noted that since the ruling over 200 criminal cases have been dismissed by the courts in various Canadian provinces.

There has been a series of leaks to the media – some say stealthily by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers – on the possible evidence against Baazov and associates held by the prosecution, although this allegation has not been proved.

More Legal Problems For Baazov (Update)

Kenyan charity goes after former CEO of Amaya group for not meeting obligations

Former Amaya CEO David Baazov, already facing insider trading charges in Quebec over the $4.9 billion Rational Group acquisition (see previous InfoPowa reports) has had more stress placed on him this week by the news that a Kenyan charity has launched litigation claiming payment of a Sh73 million (US$ 707,000) obligation.

Local media reports name the charity as the Lion’s Heart Self Help Group, which claims that Baazov, former Amaya executives Daniel Sebag and Benjamin Ahdool, and Amaya Kenyan subsidiary Amaya Gaming Group (K) Ltd “embezzled” the money by not paying over an agreed 25 percent of earnings from the Kwachu Mamilli lottery.

The 2010 agreement was breached when Amaya Gaming Group (K) Ltd failed to pay over the 25 percent it had agreed to, it is alleged, and the issue has also embroiled the NIC Bank, which the charity alleges colluded with Baazov et al regarding accounts through which the contested revenue was channelled.

In an increasingly messy dispute, the charity has been joined by Amaya Kenya director Kennedy Nyagudi, who alleges the bank should not have opened accounts unless these were authorised by Baazov and himself.

Although the bank was aware of this restriction, it opened accounts that allowed other Amaya executives to move lottery revenues out of Kenya, Nyagudi claims.

Lion’s Heart claims that Baazov originally tried to negotiate a settlement for a smaller amount than that due.

Amaya representatives have since denied any wrongdoing, calling the Lion’s Heart claims “false and ridiculous” and insisting that the Kenyan project was handled honestly, ethically and transparently.

The Lion’s Heart case will be heard just a week before Baazov faces his insider trading accusers in a Quebec Court on December 11.

Brian Cullingworth

Infopowa news was a staple of Casinomeister’s news from 2000 until 2019. Brian Cullingworth was the main writer, contributor, and was one of the most knowledgeable persons I have ever known involved in the online casino industry.

We first met in January 2001 at the ICE in London where I observed him going booth to booth interviewing online casino, software, and licensing jurisdiction representatives. Brian was also heavily involved with our forum as “Jetset“, he was involved as an informal consultant to eCOGRA, the OPA, and was a player advocate who assisted countless aggrieved players with his connections to industry folks. He also published “Casino Cautions” via Infopowa news for quite a number of years. These can be found in our news archives.

His passing in February 2019 was a dark day for us. He will be forever missed.

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