On Friday, La Presse reported that KBC Aldini Capital president Kalani Lal had filed a lawsuit in Dubai in January accusing Baazov and his longtime financial services partner Canaccord Genuity of fraudulently using Lal’s name and signature to boost Baazov’s late-2016 bid to acquire Amaya.
Last November, Amaya announced that Baazov, who had parted ways with the company several months earlier to defend himself against criminal charges of insider trading, had made a C$24 per share offer to buy a controlling stake in Amaya and take the company private.
To support his bid, Baazov filed papers with the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) stating that he’d lined up $3.65b in financial commitments from four investment firms, including the Dubai-based KBC Aldini Capital.
However, within a week of Amaya’s announcement, Lal informed CalvinAyre.com that “neither KBC Aldini nor any of its related entities are involved in this transaction.” The following day, Baazov retracted his claim regarding KBC Aldini’s involvement, and Baazov’s proposed Amaya acquisition quickly fell apart.
Knowledge of the KBC Aldini lawsuit came via Quebec securities regulator Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), which brought the insider trading charges against Baazov and two other Amaya-connected individuals in March 2016.
Last December, an AMF investigator contacted KBC’s Lal, who repeated his claim to have never heard of Baazov or Amaya prior to the SEC filings. Lal apparently asked Cannacord to provide him with a copy of the letter allegedly sent by KBC pledging its financial support, but Lal never received a copy.
The AMF report indicates that “KBC’s clientele is predominantly Muslim, meaning that KBC will never invest in a gaming business, otherwise it will lose all its customers.” Lal reportedly received many calls from KBC clients who’d heard about the alleged Amaya connection, and this had caused Lal “a lot of worries.”
Earlier this week, La Presse reported that the AMF’s raids on individuals connected with their Baazov investigation had uncovered a document in which Baazov allegedly agreed to hold the majority of his Amaya shares on behalf of his brother Ofer aka ‘Josh’ Baazov and Ofer’s longtime online gambling business partner Craig Levett. The AMF also claims to have email communications in which Ofer is referred to as Amaya’s real owner.
Baazov’s criminal trial is expected to get underway in November, but if this week is any barometer, we can expect a steady drip of damning information to leak out of the AMF offices in the weeks to follow.
Amaya, the parent company of online gambling giant PokerStars, rebranded as The Stars Group earlier this year, in what was widely viewed as a means of distancing the company from the increasingly negative media narrative surrounding its former CEO.