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Ubisoft executives fined €1.2m for alleged insider trading

"The people involved acted in good faith," the publisher asserts.

Five Ubisoft executives, including Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat, are in hot water after the french stock market regulatory commission Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) has fined the employees a cumulative total of over €1.2m.

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As reported by Kotaku, the AMF alleges that the five executives intentionally sold mass amounts of stock in early October 2013, mere days before the announcement that Watch Dogs and The Crew were being delayed until 2014. Following the slip in schedule, Ubisoft stock dropped by roughly 26 per cent.

The breakdown of the executive's fines are as follows:

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

For its part, Ubisoft denied any wrongdoing, adamant that "the people involved acted in good faith" and that there's no way any of these executives could have known about the impending delays as those could only be decided by the company's CEO Yves Guillemot.

"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," Ubisoft said in a statement to Eurogamer.

"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."

Yannis Mallat confirmed that all five employees implicated in the AMF ruling will appeal the decision.

"We remain convinced that the whole process is unjustified, unfounded and illegal," Mallat stated. "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.”