The chief executive officer of Amaya, the online gaming company targeted by an insider trading investigation, is taking a shareholder vote of 96 per cent to keep him as chairman of the board as a vote of confidence.
The vote came at the company's annual general meeting Monday where shareholders were mute on the probe by Quebec's securities regulator but did congratulate CEO David Baazov on having a "great year."
Amaya's big year started last summer with a $4.9-billion acquisition of the online betting giant PokerStars and ended this spring with revelations in the Globe and Mail that international regulators, led by Quebec's Autorité de marchés financiers, are looking into suspicious trades as share value spiked in advance of the sale.
Mr. Baazov, who is under investigation along with company chief financial officer Daniel Sebag and another employee, said business has carried on during the investigation and he is confident Amaya will be cleared.
"It's not something to be taken lightly, but it's not Hollywood either," Mr. Baazov said following the meeting. "If people go through the information carefully, look at the timeline, anybody who is sophisticated and rational can come to a pretty rational conclusion about the events that took place to get us where we are."
Last December police raided Amaya headquarters, along with a Montreal branch of Manulife Securities in Dorval and investment banker Canaccord Genuity Securities. The Globe and Mail reported scores of investors' bet on Amaya buying PokerStars before the information was known publicly. The volume of trade was so massive, it triggered alerts in trade monitoring systems. While Amaya and a pair of Canaccord officials are under investigation, 14 people from Manulife form the bulk of the suspects.
Online gambling is illegal in many U.S. states. Amaya is trying to help grow market share by getting laws passed to allow and regulate the industry, which would give the company easier market access while boosting state coffers with millions in tax revenue.