The team behind PokerStars is now facing a class action lawsuit after charges of insider trading were levied against its CEO. The parent company of the online poker giant has been named along with prominent individuals within the company. The AMF launched an investigation into Amaya trading back in 2014 after it acquired the Rational Group, the parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt. As of this week, the investigation has been completed and charges have been filed. 23 charges in total have been filed against the company and those linked to the Rational Group deal.
The Autorte des Marches Financiers is the securities regulator of Quebec. They filed charges against many members of the Canadian company including its CEO David Baazov. Mr. Baazov is being charged with trading whilst in possession of privileged information. A further charge sees him accused of influencing or attempting to influence the market price of Amaya Gaming Securities. Last week, Amaya reported that Baazov had taken a voluntary leave of absence and was fully committed to proving his innocence.
In the days before Amaya acquired the Rational Group, share prices rocketed by 50%. After the $4.9 billion purchase, Amaya saw an increase of a further 30% in its share value. This rapid increase was the alarm bell which initially alerted the AMF to the possibility of foul play.
Now, Amaya is facing further legal action after Rosen Law firm announced that it is launching a class action lawsuit against the firm. The investor-rights law firm has levied a securities class action lawsuit on behalf of Amaya investors under the federal securities laws. The law firm claims that Amaya failed to report the behaviour of its CEO, instead communicating misleading statements to investors.
The internal controls of the firm were not sufficient to prevent or expose the aforementioned insider trading scheme. Stakeholders were not made aware of this information and when the true position of the firm reached the market, stakeholders suffered. For these reasons, they are suing for damages. After news of insider trading emerged, shares in Amaya plummeted by 20%. This resulted in a loss of around $275 million dollars for its shareholders.
Lieff, Cabraser Heiman & Berstein have also launched a lawsuit against the organisation. Lead plaintiff Harvey Wiseman claims that Amaya should have disclosed the actions of its CEO to shareholders. Their lack of communication has caused many to lose out. Their suit has been brought forward on behalf of investors who bought stocks from June 2015- March 2016. They are urging any who purchased during this time to come forward no later than 24th May 2016. The aim is to recoup losses.
After the voluntary leave of absence by David Baazov, Amaya has appointed Rafi Ashkenazi as acting CEO. Interim chairman duties will be taken over by Divyesh Gadhia. They claim that the legal action will not have any impact on its offerings in PokerStars. At present, the site has cornered 70% of the online market worldwide. The brand has also just received a 6 month renewal of its New Jersey online gambling license.