Five executives from Ubisoft accused of insider trading have been fined a total of €1.2 million by French regulators, including the CEO of Ubisoft Montreal, Yannis Mallat, whose individual fine is €700,000. The company has said it will appeal the decision and continues to support the executives, saying that the regulator does not understand how its games are made.
This is part of a long-running case dating back to autumn 2013, when a delay to the original Watch Dogs was announced, causing Ubisoft stocks to take a severe tumble. The executives were accused of knowing the game would be delayed and selling stocks in the weeks leading up to the announcement – an action which is against French trading regulations. The Autorités des marchés financiers (AMF) has been pursuing the case and made its final sanctions on Wednesday.
The executives and their accompanying fines are as follows:
Yannis Mallat (CEO Ubisoft Montreal) - €700,000
Christine Burgess-Quemard (Worldwide Studios Executive Director) - €200,000
Francis Baillet (Vice President of Corporate Affairs) - €200,000
Olivier Paris (Vice President of Exec Operations, Ubisoft Montreal) - €100,000
Damien Moret (Ubisoft Club Brand Director) - €15,000
Banque Transatlantique, which facilitated the share transactions, was also fined €60,000 for a “lack of vigilance” and was told it should have considered the sale of the shares as “capable of constituting an insider dealing” once it saw the announcement of a Watch Dogs delay.
“Ubisoft acknowledges the AMF’s decision, but continues to assert that the people involved acted in good faith,” a spokesperson for Ubisoft told Kotaku today. “We are convinced that these team members did not intentionally commit any acts contrary to market regulations.”
“Regrettably, the AMF’s decision represents a serious misunderstanding of the game development and production process at our company and common to our industry.”
Ubisoft is appealing the sanctions. It's not the company’s only worry in recent days. Vivendi have been slowly buying up their own stock in the company with a view to hostile takeover, recently reaching the point where they own 25% of the company’s shares.