French stock market watchdog fines CEO and four others for insider trading, while Ubisoft appeals decision claiming the accused couldn’t have known its games would be postponed.
France’s stock market regulator AMF handed out $1.26 million in fines to five Ubisoft executives Friday, accusing them of insider trading in March 2013. The quintet have been charged with selling off their stock a few weeks before the French publisher announced that the first Watch Dogs and The Crew would come out later than expected.
When the news first broke a month ago, Ubisoft defended its employees, with company co-founder Yves Guillemot saying that he did not “question the good faith of the people involved and has reassured them that they have his full support and trust.” Ubisoft’s stock took a dive of around 25 percent on the news, according to Kotaku. The Canadian arm of the company, meanwhile, filed a motion with both the French and the Quebecois AMF to not only overturn the accusation, but demanding damages from the authorities as well.
All of this was to no avail as, after due deliberation, the French watchdog went ahead and fined Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat $738,000, with the other four receiving lesser sanctions varying between $16,000 and $210,000. The company is appealing the decision on behalf of its employees, saying that they could not have known the games’ release dates would be postponed. In a statement released after the AMF’s decision, the company said that:
“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.”
There is no date set for the appeal as of yet, though hopes are likely not running high at Ubisoft HQ considering France’s strict stance on corporate wrongdoing. To add insult to injury, the company is also currently under threat of hostile takeover from Paris-based publisher Vivendi, which currently holds a quarter of Ubisoft’s stock.
Exciting times are ahead for Ubisoft, indeed, especially as the company’s recent gaming news is also a little mixed. On the one hand, the leaked map for Ghost Recon: Wildlands has fans excited for the full game when it comes out in March. On the other, the company was forced to admit that there were some problems with Watch Dogs 2‘s multiplayer when it launched.
What do the Ranters think? Was the AMF right to fine the five execs? What’s the future going to look like for Ubisoft? Let us know in the comments.