Five Ubisoft employees have been fined $1.26 million for insider trading

Ubisoft

Update December 9 2016: Five Ubisoft employees are facing large fines for alleged insider trading, following a sanction from French stock market regulators AMF. 

For selling shares before the announced delay of Watch Dogs and The Crew in 2013, the five employees came under scrutiny and accusations of insider trading. They have now been hit with a $1.26 million fine, which Ubisoft are appealing.

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Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat is one of the accused, along with four other employees, all of whom deny the accusations. Ubisoft argue thatthese executives weren’t in a position to know about the delays before selling their shares.

“Ubisoft acknowledges the AMF’s decision, but continues to assert that the people involved acted in good faith,” a Ubisoft spokesperson said in a statement to Kotaku. “We are convinced that these team members did not intentionally commit any acts contrary to market regulations.

The company goes on to say that internal timetables suggest that these staff couldn’t know about the delays prior to them happening, especially since the decision was ultimately made by Ubisoft founder Yves Guillemot.

“Regrettably, the AMF’s decision represents a serious misunderstanding of the game development and production process at our company and common to our industry,” the statement continues. “Each major game requires the involvement of multiple teams across the company, but ultimately only the company’s CEO can make an exceptional decision such as changing a game’s release date.”

Update November 16, 2016:more details have emerged of Yannis Mallat’s interview with La Presse and his co-defendants.

Following yesterday’s news that five Ubisoft executives are being accused of insider trading, we’ve learned more about exactly who they are, and what was said by one of their number, Yannis Mallat, in an interview withQuébécois newspaper La Presse.

If you missed the original story (see below), France’s stock market regulator, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), has accused five Ubisoft executives of insider trading after their decision to sell stock some three months before game delays were announced, which affected Ubisoft’s share price.

Speaking to La Presse, Mallat said: “I had no information about the delay of Watch Dogs… let alone The Crew, let alone the fact that the announcement would not provide a new launch date which, I think, probably had the most impact.”

Mallat said only Ubisoft’s president, Yves Guillemot, could decide whether to postpone games, and suggested the AMF was betraying an ignorance of the issues: “Everything shows that the AMF has a poor understanding of how games are made.”

He went further, complaining about the regulator’s conduct: “All our explanations, all our testimonies, all our emails are ignored in a systematic way.”

Besides Mallat, we now also know that Olivier Paris and Francis Baillet are among the accused. They and Mallat are based in Montreal, while the remaining two – presently unknown – are said to be based in Paris, France. The case will be heard this Friday, November 18, in Paris, with all five execs in attendance.

Thanks to Rock Paper Shotgunand Eurogamer. Read on for more details.

Original story November 15, 2016:Five Ubisoft executives have been accused of using inside knowledge to profit on the stock market. The executives in question deny the claims made against them, with some of them going as far as seeking damages from the French stock market regulators accusing them.

As Kotaku report, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) – France’s stock market regulator – allege that Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat and four other Ubisoft executives all sold stock in the weeks before October 15, 2013, just before the publishers announced delays for both Watch Dogs and The Crew.

Ubisoft stock dropped by around 25% off the back of the announcement.

Because of the timing, the AMF posit that the executives knew about the delay announcement, and sold up before their stocks were worth less, violating French (where Ubisoft are based) insider trading laws.

Mallat has since told the Canadian newspaper La Presse that he had no such insider knowledge.

Ubisoft also sent a statement to Kotaku, saying they’re aware of the accusations and the individuals involved “vigorously dispute their implication in this matter and the AMF’s interpretation of the facts”.

Furthermore, Ubisoft co-founder and CEO, Yves Guillemot, says the accused “have his full support and trust”.

“Ubisoft itself has not been charged by the AMF,” the publishers say in the statement. “Moreover, three of the Canadian team members implicated in the AMF’s action today filed a motion with the Superior Court of Québec demanding that the procedure be declared invalid and seeking damages against AMF France and AMF Québec.”

The proceedings will continue through Novemberat the Commission des Sanctions in Paris.