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French regulators fine Ubisoft execs 1.27 million euros for insider trading

Five Ubisoft executives are facing combined fines of €1.27 million following initial accusations last month that the group participated in insider trading.

The French financial markets authority Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) has officially sanctioned five Ubisoft executives for alleged insider stock trading. Collectively, the fines levied against the executives come to €1.27 million (~ $1.33 million), but some of the accused plan to appeal the decision.

Notably, Ubisoft says that decision made by the AMF represents a misunderstanding of game development and the production process practices at both Ubisoft and in the industry as a whole.

The company maintains that the involved parties are innocent of any wrongdoing, just as it did when the allegations were first made last month.

The AMF believes that Yannis Mallat, Olivier Paris, Francis Baillet, Christine Burgess, and Damien Moret used insider knowledge of unannounced changes to the Holiday 2013 release schedule to sell company stock before the delays of Watch Dogs and The Crew were made public. Ubisoft share value fell significantly following the announcement that two major titles would miss the Holiday release window.

According to Kotaku, Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat is facing the largest sanction of the group, with an individual fine of €700,000 (~ $738,430). Francis Baillet, VP of corporate affairs, and Christine Burgess, worldwide studios executive director, have each been fined €200,000 (~ $210,980).

Olivier Paris, Ubisoft Montreal VP of executive operations, has been fined €100,000 (~ $105,490) and brand development director Damien Moret faces a €15,000 (~ $15,823) fine.

Mallat, Baillet, Burgess, and Paris have all announced their intent to appeal the AMF's decision.

The full statement from Ubisoft is as follows:

“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.”

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