Amaya CEO David Baazov to take leave of absence

Leave follows insider trading charges

David Baazov, the CEO of Montreal-based Amaya, the world’s largest online gambling company, announced Tuesday morning he will take a voluntary indefinite paid leave of absence from the company after he was charged with insider trading by Quebec’s securities regulator, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF).

The charges are tied to the Amaya’s $4.9-billion acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker in 2014.

In total, 23 charges were filed against three companies and three individuals, including five charges for Baazov, who has been described by Forbes as “the king of online gaming.”

Baazov “is taking this leave voluntarily to focus on preparing an offer to acquire Amaya and to avoid a distraction for the company,” according to a statement from Amaya. He will continue to sit on the company’s board.

Baazov announced in February he wanted to buy out shareholders for $21 per share. His offer valued the company at $2.8 billion.

After he was charged last week, he said he would proceed with trying to arrange the buyout.

In the statement Baazov said he is dedicated to doing the right thing for Amaya and its shareholders.

“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,” Baazov said.

The board has appointed Dave Gadhia as interim chairman and Rafi Ashkenazi as interim CEO.

Source: CBC News

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