BUSINESS

Analyst, 3 others hit with Amaya insider trading claims

TAGs: Amaya Gaming, David Baazov

Authorities with the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) are investigating an analyst accused of tipping off his friends about the 2014 Amaya deal, The Globe and Mail reported.

Majd Kitmitto, a senior analyst at Aston Hill Asset Management, didn’t buy any shares, but investigators said he told an officemate, and then a roommate, about the pending acquisition.

Analyst, 3 others hit with Amaya insider trading claimsAccording to the securities regulator, Kitmitto received a call from Canaccord Genuity Group in April 2014 asking if Aston Hill would like to be part of Amaya’s acquisition of the parent company of online poker giant PokerStars.

Despite signing a non-disclosure agreement, OSC authorities said Kitmitto told his officemate, Steven Vannatta, about “material, non-public information about Amaya.” This led to Vannatta snapping up CAD31,650 (US$24,372) worth of Amaya shares, which he then sold for CAD96,316 (US$74,170) profit after the official announcement was made on June 12. 2014. And in the spirit of sharing, Vannatta also reportedly tipped off four of his relatives about the Amaya deal—resulting in them pocketing a combined profit of CAD195,000 (US$150,163).

Kitmitto also informed his roommate Christopher Candusso, who, in turn, told his father Claudio about the pending deal. The two men, according to OSC, made off with CAD31,956 (US$24,608) and CAD30,782 (US$23,704) in profits, respectively.

Vannatta is also accused of making “misleading and untrue” statements during the interviews OSC conducted under oath, in which he claimed to not knowing that “he’d made the third trade and said he’d submitted statements for all of his accounts.” When asked by Aston Hill to submit his brokerage account, Vannatta turned over transaction histories that left out all the trades he made, the OSC said.

Vannatta and Kitmitto, along with the father-and-son duo, are facing possible charges of insider trading. A hearing is set to happen in late March, according to the OSC.

If found guilty, the four will undoubtedly also have their day in court—albeit with a little less fanfare compared to that of former Amaya CEO David Baazov, whose insider trading trial is scheduled to start on April 16. Baazov stepped down from his Amaya corner office in August 2016, and sold off the bulk of his Amaya holdings after several failures to buy the company and take it private. Amaya rebranded as The Stars Group last June.

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