Amaya, PokerStars Investigation Takes New Turns
That’s a question investigators for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) are asking the Quebec-based gaming firm. FINRA, is backed by the US financial industry and is not a government authority
According to reports on the Globe and Mail and OnlinePokerReport, FINRA is looking into allegations that 300 Amaya investors may have benefited from insider information in the days leading up to the company’s blockbuster PokerStars deals. They’re also alleging that the 300 drove Amaya stock prices up on the eve of the big deal.
This investigation is separate from the investigation being conducted by Quebec authorities, though both are focusing on the dispersal of insider information.
There are, however, some questions about who knew what, when about Amaya. OnlinePokerReport details a number of Amaya data points that were readily available to anyone with internet access well before the deal closed.
For example, on May 20, a research note from an analysis company (ominously) called Industrial Allegiance predicted that Amaya would be involved in a major acquisition. Just three days later, CalvinAyre.com predicted that Amaya would be purchasing the poker giant.
Both of these events occurred nearly a month before Amaya’s official announcement regarding the PokerStars acquisition.
Last month Amaya CEO David Baazov downplayed the significance of any investigations saying:
I would say that the investigation for us is something that we anticipated given that there was a historical stock run-up in advance. I think the AMF is looking into something that they should be looking into and looking into what has led to that stock run-up…We have no evidence to believe that there’s any wrongdoing by any officer, director, or employees and we’re cooperating with the investigation.
FINRA had no comment on the investigation.
Despite Baazov’s casual attitude toward the dual investigations, they are thorny issues that could stymie the company’s efforts to break into the US market.