Ajax suspend CEO Kroes for alleged insider trading

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The supervisory board of the Dutch club has suspended Ajax chief executive Alex Kroes following accusations of insider trading.

The club board stated that Kroes purchased over 17,000 shares in the club a week before his appointment was officially announced on August 2nd.

The board said it sought external legal advice which “indicates that he likely engaged in insider trading”.

Ajax has announced their intention to dismiss the 50-year-old Dutchman.

Kroes, who assumed the position just two weeks ago, stated that he plans to seek a ruling on his acquisitions from the Dutch financial watchdog AFM and does not agree with the board’s decision.

He explained that he had been acquiring club shares gradually from April 2022 to July 2023, ceasing once his appointment at Ajax was confirmed “to prevent any misinterpretations.”

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 receive information regarding Kroes’ proposed termination at an extraordinary general meeting, after which the supervisory board will make the final decision on his future.

Despite his appointment in August, Kroes only assumed his duties last month due to a non-competition clause in his contract at his previous club AZ Alkmaar, where he served as the director of international football strategy.

The former Ajax youth player took over from Edwin van der Sar, who resigned at the conclusion of the previous season following the team’s third-place finish in the Dutch league and failure to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2009.

Currently, Ajax is in fifth place in the Eredivisie, trailing league leaders PSV Eindhoven by 28 points.