Ontario’s Capital Markets Tribunal handed down bans and millions of dollars in penalties against industry insiders who traded on inside information involving a planned acquisition by Amaya Gaming Group Inc.
In May 2022, the tribunal’s majority found that an advisor, his assistant, a portfolio manager and an analyst (along with the analyst’s roommate) had violated securities law by sharing and trading on inside information about Amaya’s plans to acquire Oldford Group Ltd. (the parent company of PokerStars) in 2014.
The panel found that Majd Kitmitto, then a senior analyst at Aston Hill Asset Management Inc. who covered the gaming and tech sectors, learned about Amaya’s planned acquisition before the news went public and tipped off several colleagues. These included a portfolio manager at the firm and an advisor at Aston Hill Securities, who then tipped others and traded on the inside information.
Now, the tribunal has handed down sanctions in the case.
The panel banned Kitmitto from the market for 10 years and ordered him to pay a $600,000 penalty and almost $150,000 in costs for initiating the violations with his tip.
While Kitmitto himself did not profit from his violations, “large profits were made by those he tipped,” it said. The tribunal said the market impact of Kitmitto’s breaches amounted to approximately $1.5 million of illegal profits.
While the tribunal found that the misconduct originated with Kitmitto, the harshest penalties went to Donald Alexander (Sandy) Goss, an advisor at Aston Hill Securities. Goss was banned for 15 years, fined $1 million, and ordered to disgorge $1.23 million and pay over $180,000 in costs.
“We find that Goss’s conduct was among the most serious at issue in these proceedings,” the tribunal said in its decision. “He engaged in insider trading on a large scale, repeatedly, in his own and his family’s accounts, as well as recommending significant trading in client accounts while in possession of [inside information], leading to significant profits.”
Goss’s assistant, Frank Fakhry, was also banned for 15 years. He was ordered to pay a $600,000 penalty, to disgorge over $125,000 and to pay almost $150,000 in costs.
Aston Hill portfolio manager Steven Vannatta was banned for 15 years, ordered to pay a $650,000 penalty and over $50,000 in disgorgement, along with $180,000 in costs.
The one person who didn’t work in the securities industry — Kitmitto’s roommate, Christopher Candusso — was banned for three years, ordered to pay a $100,000 penalty, and to disgorge almost $31,000 and pay almost $75,000 in costs.