Ubisoft executives hit with $1.2 million sanction over insider trading allegations

Ubisoft Montreal CEO among the accused

Several Ubisoft executives are getting slapped with more than $1.2 million worth of fines due to allegations of insider trading.

French stock market regulators, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), issued sanctions against five Ubisoft employees, including Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat, for selling stock in early October 2013 just before the announcement that Watch Dogs and The Crew would be delayed.

Those delays ultimately devalued Ubisoft stock by close to 25 percent.

The employees being fined include:

  • Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat – €700,000

  • Ubisoft VP of corporate affairs Francis Baillet – €200,000

  • Ubisoft worldwide studios exec director Christine Burgess – €200 000

  • Ubisoft Montreal VP of executive operations Olivier Paris – €100,000

  • Ubisoft brand development director Damien Moret – €15,000

Ubisoft is appealing the sanctions, and released a statement that reads:

"Today, the AMF announced a decision against five of our team members in Canada and France, whom the AMF charges with having sold Ubisoft shares while in possession of privileged information related to the probability of postponing one of Ubisoft’s games. 

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

Similarly, given the processes and timetables involved in the production of major games at our company and within our industry in general, we believe that at the time they carried out their transactions these employees could not have been aware of or anticipate the subsequent decision to postpone the game that would be taken by Yves Guillemot on October 11, 2013.

Regrettably, the AMF’s decision represents a serious misunderstanding of the game development and production process at our company and common to our industry. 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.”

Ubisoft went on to say that Mallat and other executives had no knowledge about the delays at the time they sold their shares.

You can read the AMF’s decision here.

It hasn’t really been a great week for Ubisoft, as the company is also in the middle of fighting a hostile takeover from French multimedia company Vivendi.

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