Ajax suspend CEO Kroes for alleged insider trading

Ajax chief executive Alex Kroes has been suspended by the Dutch club’s supervisory board over allegations of insider trading.

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”.

Ajax say they intend to sack the 50-year-old Dutchman.

Kroes, who has only been on the job for two weeks, said he would seek a judgment on his acquisitions by Dutch financial watchdog AFM and did not accept the board’s decision.

He said he had purchased club shares in stages from April 2022 to July 2023, stopping once his appointment at Ajax was confirmed “to avoid any misunderstandings”.

Kroes added he purchased the shares “out of confidence in the club. Not to make quick money” and had “provided full disclosure” to the supervisory board about his assets.

“I believe that you radiate confidence to your fellow shareholders and stakeholders if you buy shares yourself and therefore also run financial risks yourself,” he said.

“The AFM can then independently assess whether or not I have acted contrary to the law and the severity of this. Naturally, I will bear the consequences.”

Board chairman Michael van Praag said the club is “deeply dismayed” and Kroes’ position is “untenable”.

In a statement, Van Praag said: “It is highly detrimental to the club and everyone who holds it dear to them.

“Alex Kroes’ 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.”

Shareholders will hear the details about Kroes’ intended dismissal at an extraordinary general meeting, with the supervisory board then having the final say over his future.

Despite being appointed in August, Kroes only began his role last month because of a non-competition clause in his contract at his previous club AZ Alkmaar, where he was director of international football strategy.

The former Ajax youth player succeeded Edwin van der Sar, who resigned at the end of last season after the team finished third in the Dutch league and failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2009.

They are currently in fifth place in the Eredivisie, 28 points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven.

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