The insider trading probe into Amaya Gaming’s purchase of the parent company of online gambling site PokerStars officially got weird on Tuesday following media reports that one of the alleged profiteers is a senior member of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang.
On Tuesday, Montreal’s La Presse reported that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating Salvatore Cazzetta, the former head of the Rock Machine biker gang who switched allegiance to the Hell’s Angels, for his possible investments in Amaya prior to last June’s $4.9b acquisition of the Rational Group.
La Presse quoted a source that claimed Cazzetta’s Amaya investment was only around $10k, a “personal and small investment.” Cazzetta is currently awaiting trial in Quebec on fraud and conspiracy charges relating to the importation of untaxed cigarettes. Cazzetta previously served a lengthy stint in prison after being caught attempting to import cocaine.
La Presse claimed the RCMP’s Integrated Market Enforcement Team (IMET) was investigating whether organized crime figures were among the investors who made handsome profits by buying Amaya shares prior to the Rational acquisition. Unidentified police sources told La Presse that the RCMP was collecting information prior to the opening of an investigation into stock trades by organized crime figures.
However, RCMP Corporal Camille Habel told the Financial Post that no IMET team was involved in a criminal investigation of Amaya and “there is no pre-investigation step in order for us to decide whether there is going to be an investigation.”
An apparently frustrated Amaya CEO David Baazov (pictured) told La Presse that “these people have no connection with Amaya. Anyone can buy shares on the stock market; we have nothing to reproach ourselves.” Amaya spokesman Eric Hollreiser told the Financial Post that the company had “no knowledge or connection to the individual or the organization mentioned in the La Presse article.”
There are currently two separate regulatory probes into who made what off Amaya’s Rational acquisition, one by Quebec securities regulator Autorité des Marches Financiers (AMF) and the other by the US-based Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.
The AMF probe’s primary focus is believed to be centered around a particular group of traders at Manulife Securities’ Dorval branch although the AMF did seize computers and files belonging to Baazov and CFO Daniel Sebag when they executed a search warrant at Amaya’s Montreal HQ last December.