Amaya chief Baazov to take voluntary leave of absence

30 March 2016

Amaya has announced that chairman and chief executive David Baazov is to take an indefinite voluntary paid leave of absence from the company in order to focus on his potential acquisition of the firm and respond to allegations made against him by the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).

Last week, the Quebec security regulator AMF filed a total of 23 charges against Baazov, accusing him of “aiding with trades while in possession of privileged information, influencing or attempting to influence the market price of the securities of Amaya inc., and communicating privileged information”.

The accusations relate to an investigation that was launched into insider trading shortly after Amaya acquired PokerStars in 2014.

Baazov will remain a member of the Amaya board of directors during his period of leave, with the company appointing Divyesh Gadhia as interim chairman and Rafi Ashkenazi as interim chief executive.

Gadhia is currently chair of the Special Committee of independent directors established by Amaya to consider any proposal that may be made by Baazov, while Ashkenazi is chief executive of PokerStars’ parent company Rational Group.

Amaya has announced that its Special Committee will expand its mandate to now include the allegations made against Baazov.

In a statement confirming his leave, Baazov said: “As always, I continue to be dedicated to doing the right thing for Amaya and all its stakeholders.

“I believe that stepping down in the short term will help to avoid distraction for the company and its management while I vigorously contest all allegations made against me and pursue my bid to acquire the company.”

Related article: Amaya shares down as CEO faces insider trading charges