Ex-Amaya CEO Baazov Vindicated? Court Tosses Insider Trading Case

Former Amaya CEO David Baazov is going to walk away from charges of insider trading relatively unscathed.

A Canadian court tossed the case against Baazov and the two other co-defendants, Benjamin Ahdoot and Yoel Altman last week.

The case was dropped because the prosecution essentially mishandled over 300,000 documents. The prosecution accidentally shared the documents to the defense but then attempted to make the documents private.

The defense took issue with having to give up more than 300,000 documents in an ongoing case and filed to have the entire case tossed. It appears they were successful.

Baazov was being investigated for insider trading during the period of time that Amaya purchased PokerStars for $4.9 billion in 2014.

“No other acceptable solution”

The mishandling of documents was not the first time the prosecution made a mistake according to the defense.

Previously lawyers for Baazov and co had moved to get the charges tossed because of what they were calling an “unreasonable delay” in getting them to court. The defense also tried to get the charges tossed because the prosecution was late in disclosing evidence.

The judge in the case, Salvatore Mascia, rejected both of those motions but apparently felt this last mistake involving the mishandled documents was one step too far and he had no choice but to stay the charges.

“When the circumstances justify it, the courts must stay the proceedings,” said Mascia in a written statement.

“This is only to be used in the most dramatic cases. There must be no other acceptable solution that might right the wrongs. In this case, do the accumulation of mistakes require a stay of proceedings? Yes.”

Baazov applauds court’s decision

The three defendants in the case, including Baazov, released a brief statement that applauded the judge’s decision to stay the charges.

“We agree with the judge and are happy with the decision,” the three men said, adding they will have no further comment at this time.

The charges in the case stemmed from Amaya’s $4.9 billion deal to acquire the Rational Group, parent company to PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, in 2014.

The deal transformed Amaya into the biggest online poker company in the world and caused the company’s stock to reach previously untold heights.

Baazov had pleaded not guilty to five separate counts including influencing or attempting to influence the market price of Amaya stock.

The trial had been going on for six weeks already and was expected to run until the fall.

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The Stars Group hits all-time high

Meanwhile, Baazov’s former company, which has been rebranded as The Stars Group has been on a steady climb in 2018.

Since Baazov left the company in 2016, Rafi Ashkenazi has taken the reins as CEO and moved the company to Toronto. The Stars Group has diversified heavily in the last few years and now has burgeoning online casino and sports betting businesses.

The company’s stock was particularly buoyed by the massive $4.7 billion acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming. The deal helped make The Stars Group the biggest publicly quoted online gambling company in the world.

It seems unlikely that Baazov’s case had any effect on The Stars Group stock but the company did hit an all-time high of CAD$48.84 on the TSE last week.

Analysts believe there may still be room for growth, however, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that gave the green light to sports betting on a state by state basis.

The Stars Group only has one license in the USA, that’s for online poker in New Jersey, but the company has the infrastructure to rapidly expand into other states if given the green light.