European giants suspend CEO for ‘likely insider trading’ just weeks after replacing Man Utd icon

European giants Ajax are experiencing a nightmare season both on and off the pitch
Ajax have suspended their new CEO for 'insider trading'.Ajax have suspended their new CEO for 'insider trading'.
Ajax have suspended their new CEO for 'insider trading'.

Dutch heavyweights Ajax have suspended club CEO Alex Kroes with immediate effect after he was accused of ‘insider trading’ prior to his appointment in August 2023. The football executive was appointed by the 36-time winners in the summer as the replacement for Manchester United icon Edwin van der Sar who retired from the role last summer after seven years. Due to his contractual situation with former club AZ Alkmaar, Kroes was not able to begin work in Amsterdam until March 15.

It was hoped that his arrival would help inspire an upturn in fortunes in the summer after a dismal campaign on the pitch. So far, Ajax find themselves 5th in the league table putting them on course for their lowest league finish since 1999/2000. The club also found themselves in the relegation places in October, which was their worst start to a league season in 70 years.

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However, Kraes now finds himself suspended having worked in his new role after barely a fortnight in the job and it is suspected that the club intends to terminate the collaboration permanently, according to reports from The Athletic. In a statement, the club board alleges Kroes bought more than 17,000 shares in the club a week before his appointment was announced on 2 August The board said it sought external legal advice which "indicates that he likely engaged in insider trading".

Insider trading - the buying or selling of stocks based on privileged information - is a criminal offence.

Michael van Praag, chairman of the club’s supervisory board explained: “Alex Kroes’s actions are not in line with what Ajax stands for. The timing of his 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 is untenable. I want to emphasise that the technical policy will continue with the individuals in place and the path Ajax was already on with Alex.”

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Kroes said in a statement on Tuesday that the club were ‘already aware’ of his share package in the club and that he provided ‘full disclosure’ about all relevant assets, including his 42,500. He explained: “In the period of 6 April 2022 to 26 July 2023 I purchased Ajax shares in bits and pieces, increasing to 42,500 shares (of the total of £18.33m existing Ajax shares).”

“On 31 December 2022 I already had 20,000 pieces. I purchased another part in the months of April, May, June 2023. I purchased the last part (approximately 17,500 pieces) on 26 July 2023, shortly before my appointment on 2 August 2023.

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