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Five Ubisoft Studio Executives Collectively Fined More Than One Million Dollars For Insider Trading

by Javy Gwaltney on Dec 09, 2016 at 08:25 AM

Today Autorité des marchés financiers, which regulates the French stock market, announced €1.27 million (~$1.33 million) fines for five Ubisoft studio executives regarding insider trading. The charges accuse the executives of selling stock right before prominent Ubisoft games, like Watch Dogs, were to be delayed. Those being fined include:

  • Yannis Mallat, Ubisoft Montreal CEO (€700,000)
  • Francis Baillet, VP of corporate affairs (€200,000)
  • Christine Burgess, worldwide studios executive director (€200,000)
  • Olivier Paris, Ubisoft Montreal VP of executive operations (€100,000)
  • Damien Moret, brand development director (€15,000)

If you can read French, you can check out the sanction document for yourself here. We asked Ubisoft for comment and they issued this statement:

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 also sent along a statement from Mallat himself:

We remain convinced that the whole process is unjustified, unfounded and illegal. Moreover, the Commission notes that the hearings conducted in Quebec are null and void. We will therefore continue to defend our good faith and our rights before the Court of Appeal in France, and also via the lawsuit in Quebec brought against the AMF France and the AMF Quebec.    

Our Take
Yikes. There might be more going on here than meets the eye but still but Ubisoft's statement doesn't do a great job of defending the company. It'll be interesting to see how Mallat and company's attempts to appeal the AMF's decision play out.