Five executives from Ubisoft, including the CEO of Ubisoft Montreal, Yannis Mallat, have been accused of selling stock in the company while knowing about an imminent delay to Watch Dogs and The Crew, back in October 2013. All of the executives have denied the accusation from the French stock market regulator, Autorités des marchés financiers (AMF), and are currently disputing the long-running case, requesting for it to be nullified and seeking damages against the regulatory body.
Three of the men are based in Montreal: Yannis Mallat, Olivier Paris and Francis Baillet are all high-ranking executives at the company. Another two French executives remain unnamed. Ubisoft announced in October 2013 that they would be delaying the original Watch Dogs into the following year.
At the time, this caused the company’s stock to take a tumble of 26%, a common enough occurrence for large developers who announce long delays (the same thing happened to Take Two’s stock earlier that year, in the wake of a delay for GTA 5).
The five executives are alleged to have made deals to sell stock three weeks prior to the company’s announcement, while having knowledge of the upcoming delay. Such actions, if true, are against France’s insider trading laws.
Mallet denied the accusations in an interview with Québécois newspaper La Presse, saying that only Ubisoft’s President, Yves Guillemot, could make the decision to postpone the games.
“I had no information about the delay of Watch Dogs,” he said, “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.”
He also complained about the regulatory body itself.
“All our explanations, all our testimonies, all our emails are ignored in a systematic way,” he told the newspaper. “Everything shows that the AMF has a poor understanding of how games are made.”
Responding to Kotaku, Ubisoft stressed that the company itself was not accused of anything, but that the staff members alleged of the crime nonetheless have the support of its founder and president.
“Those individuals vigorously dispute their implication in this matter and the AMF’s interpretation of the facts. Yves Guillemot, Co-Founder and CEO of Ubisoft, does not question the good faith of the people involved and has reassured them that they have his full support and trust.”
The five Ubisoft employees will now have to present themselves at a hearing in Paris on November 18 to the regulator’s sanctions board, a panel of judges and professionals who will review the case.