Stock market regulators in France have accused five Ubisoft executives of insider trading. Insider trading occurs when someone acts on shares using information only they are privileged to know at the time. Three of the accused are from Ubisoft’s Canadian offices including Executive Vice President of Operations Olivier Paris and Vice-President of Corporate Affairs Francis Baillet and Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat. Two others are based in the publishers France offices. Ubisoft is denying the accusation by the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).
This kind of trading can earn the person or people massive amounts of profit and is highly illegal. In this case, the accusation is that the Ubisoft executives sold stock in the weeks before 15th October 2013. That is around the time when Ubisoft made it publically known that both Watch Dogs and The Crew would be delayed to 2014. When the announcement went public, value in the publishers shares dropped around 26%.
Mallat informed Canadian newspaper La Presse that he had no such knowledge about Watch Dogs or The Crew being delayed at the time he sold his shares. Having sold shares on the 25th September, he said he learned of the game delays weeks later on the 11th October.
He also pointed to procedural errors when dealing with the AMF.
All our explanations, our testimony, our emails are ignored systematically and especially inexplicable by the AMF. Everything shows that the AMF has a poor understanding of how we play games.
All five Ubisoft executives are due to report on the 18th November in Paris for a hearing before the Commission des Sanctions (Sanctions Committee). The three Canada based Ubisoft executives have filed for a motion with the Superior Court of Québec demanding that the procedure be declared invalid. They are also seeking damages against AMF France and AMF Québec.
The news doesn’t come at an ideal time as the publisher is fending off a potential hostile takeover from Vivendi who is buying up shares in the company.