It is safe to say that Amaya Inc. used to be a household name across Canada, even before the gaming company purchased the parent company of PokerStars, one of the most popular cardrooms on a global scale. Another reason for its popularity is Canada’s largest insider trading case that has been raging for the past several years, only to see the Ontario Securities Commission dismissing its bundle of allegations. CIBC Investment Adviser Frank Soave was the last individual among three others accused of insider trading or tipping on Amaya.
The US$4.9-billion deal that added PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to the wide portfolio of Amaya and completely transformed it is still one of the controversial topics across Canada. It took place in 2014 triggering a chain of events. Eventually, the company rebranded to The Stars Group Inc. in 2017. Allegations of insider trading and tipping prior to the takeover gave green light to an extensive investigation.
Aston Hill Executives Involved
Ontario’s securities regulator came to the conclusion that at the time when he received the information Mr. Soave was not aware that the person he is speaking with has inside knowledge about Amaya. Taking this factor into account, the Ontario Securities Commission ruled to dismiss the case against the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce’s Investment Adviser. It could be recalled that 2017 was the year that saw allegation against him and three other individuals.
Those were Ben Cheng, John David Rothstein, and Eric Tremblay all occupying leading positions at Aston Hill Financial Inc. In the spring of 2017, the commission announced it is launching a probe against several leading names. The four individuals had been previously linked to Aston Hill, an investment manager. Mr. Cheng was Aston Hill’s former Co-Chief Investment Officer and according to the allegations issued by Ontario Securities Commission he came into the obtained information related to Amaya’s takeover in April 2014.
Supposedly Mr. Cheng came to the understanding that Amaya was planning to ink an acquisition deal with the parent company managing PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Soon after that Aston Hill received a special invitation to support the financing of this move. Upon finding out the undisclosed knowledge, he shared it with Mr. Rothstein, National Sales Manager of the company at the time.
November 2018 Saw New Batch Accused
Mr. Cheng then prompted Mr. Rothstein to mention the information to other individuals that had previously lost capital in order to potentially compensate them with a successful investment. Allegations state that this is how Mr. Soave learned about the planned acquisition deal. He purchased 5,000 Amaya shares right before the stock was halted and the acquisition became public.
Later on, he sold all of his shares generating profit reaching 63 percent. Mr. Rothsetin purchased 700 shares and later sold them with a return of 66 percent. Eric Tremblay was Chief Executive of Aston Hill at the time and he was also among the accused of being in the know.
Now all four allegations are settled with the individuals, but the probe continues, as November 2018 saw several more individuals being accused of insider tipping. Those are Majd Kitmitto, Steven Vannatta, Christopher Candusso, Claudio Candusso, Donald Alexander, Goss, John Fielding, and Frank Fakhry.