Ex-Amaya CEO Baazov accused of stealing from Kenya charity


david-baazov-amaya-sued-kenya-charity-embezzlementLife just gets better for David Baazov, the former CEO of Amaya Gaming, who is being sued for embezzlement by a Kenyan charity.

On Wednesday, Business Daily Africa reported that the Lion’s Heart Self Help Group had filed suit against Baazov and his fellow former Amaya execs Daniel Sebag and Benjamin Ahdoot, as well as Amaya’s Kenyan subsidiary, for allegedly embezzling Sh73m (US $707k) that was earmarked for the Lion’s Heart charity.

The suit alleges that Amaya Gaming Group (K) Ltd, which began lottery operations in the country in 2010, failed to remit the promised 25% of its earnings from the Kwachu Mamilli lottery to Lion’s Heart. The suit also targets local financial institution NIC Bank for allegedly colluding with Baazov et al to open accounts through which the embezzled funds flowed.

Lion’s Heart has been joined in the suit by Amaya Gaming Group (K) director Kennedy Odhiambo Nyagudi, who claims that only he and Baazov were authorized to open local bank accounts on behalf of the company. Nyagudi claims NIC Bank was aware of this limitation, yet still opened accounts on behalf of the other Amaya execs, who then funneled the aforementioned millions out of the country.

Fraud allegations regarding Amaya’s Kenyan operations began swirling as early as 2012. Lion’s Heart claimed Amaya originally tried to lowball them with a sum that was a fraction of what was owed, then Amaya allegedly filed papers with local gaming regulators claiming to have earned only one-fifth the sum the charity said the company actually took in.

At the time, Amaya director Brian Steppens called the charity’s claims “false and ridiculous” and insisted that it was “not involved in any form of embezzlement” and “have followed due diligence and remain transparent in our operations.”

The latest hearing in the case is scheduled for December 5. Six days after that, Baazov will have a hearing in the Court of Quebec regarding his criminal charges of insider trading, which stem from Amaya’s blockbuster $4.9b deal to acquire the parent company of online gambling giant PokerStars in 2014.

In case anyone forgot, Baazov is also being sued for fraud by a Dubai investor whose name was put forward by Baazov during his final failed effort to raise enough money to buy Amaya and take the company private. It’s a good thing Baazov earned a lot of money selling off his Amaya shares, as his legal bill is going to be a whopper.