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Men’s Football Ajax suspend new CEO on suspicion of insider trading club shares

AJAX suspended chief executive Alex Kroes today over allegations of insider trading before his appointment at the Eredivisie club.

Kroes, who only started the role last month, was announced as chairman and CEO in August 2023 but the Dutch giants claimed in a statement that the 50-year-old had purchased 17,000 club shares a week earlier.

A club statement read: “The Supervisory Board of AFC Ajax NV has decided to suspend Alex Kroes, CEO and chairman of the board, with immediate effect and intends to terminate the collaboration permanently.

“This decision was made after the Supervisory Board learned that Kroes purchased over 17,000 shares of Ajax a week before his intended appointment was announced on August 2, 2023. The Supervisory Board sought external legal advice, which indicates that he likely engaged in insider trading. Insider trading is a criminal offence.”

Kroes said in a post on LinkedIn that he had purchased shares in “bits and pieces” from April 2022 to July 2023 – before he agreed to join the club.

He said: “Last week, some media asked questions about the Ajax shares that I own. Among other things, I was asked whether I had received this as signing money from Ajax or whether I bought it myself. The latter is the case. I bought every Ajax share myself.

“At that time I had not yet agreed with Ajax, but – because of my own intentions – I had a good feeling about it. I thought it was a positive signal to radiate confidence in the club and to shareholders. To be part of that – literally and figuratively.

“I believe that you radiate confidence to your fellow shareholders and stakeholders if you buy shares yourself and therefore also run financial risks yourself. ‘Skin in the game’, as they say.”

The news comes during a turbulent season for the Amsterdam outfit, who are a lowly fifth in the domestic table – 28 points behind leaders PSV – and face the possibility of missing out on European competition next season, something which last happened in 1990-91.

Michael van Praag, chairman of the supervisory board, added: “We are deeply dismayed that this has occurred at Ajax, as it is highly detrimental to the club and everyone who holds it dear to them.

“Alex Kroes’s actions are not in line with what Ajax stands for. The timing of his share purchase indicates insider trading. Such a violation of the law cannot be tolerated by a publicly listed company, especially when it involves the CEO.

“After careful consideration, the Supervisory Board has therefore concluded that Alex’s position as a director of Ajax is untenable. I want to emphasise that the technical policy will continue with the individuals in place and on the path Ajax was already on with Alex.”

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