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April 13, 2010

NBA, Prokhorov's firm fire back on Zimbabwe issue; contradiction over report on Harare summit (and did the ESDC check?)

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder rounds up all the news about Zimbabwe, including conflicting reports about the whereabouts of a Prokhorov manager, denials from the NBA, Bruce Ratner's claim that "everything is in great shape" and what the ESDC knew — and when did they know it.

On Sunday, the New York Post broke the news that New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell, who'd previously asked the NBA to investigate Mikhail Prokhorov and obviously doesn't want the Nets to leave his state, asked the U.S. Treasury Department to investigate whether the investment bank Renaissance Capital--of which Prokhorov's firm Onexim owns nearly half--violated U.S. sanctions in dealing with Zimbabwe.

"Mr. Prokhorov reportedly controls nearly 50% of the investment bank, which recently sponsored an economic summit in Zimbabwe this past February on behalf of the government," Pascrell said in a letter.

On a weekend, that generated a lot of heat, but not much light. The Treasury Department sanctions don't apply to all business in Zimbabwe, just with certain persons and entities.

I asked the ESDC Sunday if it had any response to Pascrell's charges and whether the agency had ever officially approved Prokhorov's role and conducted any investigation into him.

I haven't gotten a response yet.


Related coverage...

Deadspin, Today In "Holy Crap, This Guy Is Buying An NBA Team": Prokhorov Does Business With A Dictator

New Jersey legislator Bill Pascrell Jr. is calling for an inquiry that into the sale of the Nets because prospective owner Mikhail Prokhorov may or may not have done business with reigning Dictator of the Year, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. Of course.

Rep. Pascrell may be onto something, or he may just be a Congressman from New Jersey that doesn't want whatever cash the Nets generate for the state going to Flatbush and Atlantic in Brooklyn. Whatever the case, I think we can now say that Mikhail Prokhorov is a phenomenon the likes of which the NBA has never seen. If he's not flying models into some remote alpine resort, he's canoodling with one of the worst people in the world. The guy makes Donald Sterling look like George Bailey.

NY Post, NBA backs Nets buyer

The NBA threw an elbow at a New Jersey congressman yesterday, claiming he was "misinformed" when he blasted the Russian billionaire who wants to buy the Nets over his business dealings in Zimbabwe.

[NBA spokesman Mike] Bass said there's no indication Prokhorov dealt with any of those people or entities. Prokhorov's representatives said his company has always strictly complied with US rules regarding Zimbabwe.

NoLandGrab: And who wants to bet "there's no indication" the NBA has any clue about whom Prokhorov's companies did or didn't have dealings with?

SportsBusiness Daily, Ratner, NBA Dispute Claims About Mikhail Prokhorov's Zimbabwe Ties

Nets Owner Bruce Ratner yesterday said that he is confident his sale of the franchise to Mikhail Prokhorov and the team's planned move to Brooklyn "will both go through...."

NLG: By "confident" Ratner means "crossing his fingers."

Posted by eric at April 13, 2010 1:40 PM