David Baazov implicated in Pigeon conspiracy to solicit foreign funds for Cuomo campaign

This morning, United States Attorney Patrick Kennedy and FBI Agent-in-Charge Adam Cohen explained new felony charges against the political operative G. Steven Pigeon, who is already under indictment by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on unrelated charges of bribery, extortion, and illegal campaign coordination.

Marlon Goldstein, 43, joined Amaya in January 2014 and serves as its Executive Vice-President, Corporate Development & General Counsel and Secretary. Goldstein co-chairs the firm’s gaming practice, representing owners, operators and developers of gaming facilities, manufacturers and suppliers of gaming devices, investment banks and lenders in financing transactions, and Indian tribes in the development and financing of gaming facilities.

He is believed to be the February 25, 2014 contributor to Governor Andrew Cuomo‘s campaign fund that is at the center of new federal conspiracy allegations against Pigeon. In FBI Agent Brian Burns‘ compliant, Goldstein’s identity is concealed as ‘Person B.’

He is alleged to have made the $25,000 contribution after being asked to do so by David Baazov, the firm’s rags-to-riches founder and CEO.  His identity is concealed in the complaint as ‘Person A.’  Baazov is a Canadian citizen, prohibited from contributing to an American election campaign. Funneling the money through a third party is a felony crime.

He retained Pigeon to lobby the Cuomo administration to legalize internet gaming.   From 2010 to 2015 he paid Pigeon’s PAPI Holdings, LLC more than $388,000.

In March 2016, Baazov was charged by Canadian regulators with multiple securities fraud charges, unrelated to the Pigeon complaint. Baazov took an indefinite leave of absence shortely thereafter, and resigned in August 2016. He faces trial scheduled for November of 2017, which prosecutors expect to last thirteen weeks.

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He is accused of aiding with trades while in possession of privileged information, influencing or attempting to influence the market price of Amaya securities and communicating privileged information.

A separate non-penal case was also opened against other associates of Mr. Baazov, alleging they profited from trades made with privileged information that originated from him. The AMF says it was a sophisticated system through which kickbacks were paid in exchange for tips on several impending takeover deals.

Amaya produces gaming products and services including online casino, poker, sportsbook, platform, lotteries and slot machines software. It claims some of the world’s largest gaming operators and casinos are powered by its online, mobile, and land-based products.

Baazon, the firm’s founder, is estimated to be worth $800 million.  He has divested most of his position in Amaya for nearly $400 million in the past year.  He had attempted a $4.1 billion takeover of the company, but some of the firm’s institutional lenders prevented the transaction.

Amaya is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (symbol TSXAYA) and headquartered in suburban Montreal, Quebec. In June 2014, Amaya agreed to buy the parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker for $4.9 billion. The takeover makes Amaya the world’s biggest publicly listed online gambling company.  The deal was closed on August 1, 2014.

The $25,000 campaign contribution in question was made twice — and rejected twice by Cuomo’s campaign — before Baazov asked Goldstein to make the contribution. On the first occasion, Baazov attempted to contribute from Amaya — which exceeded the legal limit of $5,000 (unless the entity is an LLC).

Baazov made the contribution again, this time from his personal account.  The campaign rejected it again, based on his lack of American citizenship or legal resident status. At that point — Pigeon informed the Cuomo campaign’s Managing Director that Baazov would be making the contribution though a third party.

You can read the complaint here.

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