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April 12, 2010

Nothin’ but nyet! Jersey lawmaker says Ratner’s savior is illegally in bed with Mugabe!

The Brooklyn Paper
by Stephen Brown

Bruce Ratner’s sale of his financially troubled Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets hit a major obstacle on Sunday as a New Jersey congressman brought a full court press of allegations involving the would-be new owner’s shady business dealings in Zimbabwe.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D–New Jersey) is demanding that the federal Treasury Department investigate Mikhail Prokhorov’s investments in the notorious rogue nation — which may constitute a violation of U.S. sanctions against Robert Mugabe’s regime.

“This is of great concern,” Pascrell told Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in a letter dated April 11. “Mr. Prokhorov has extensive business dealings in the United States, including his most-recent efforts to purchase the New Jersey Nets. … Zimbabwe is ruled under a brutal, autocratic and repressive regime.”
...

The United States’ strict sanctions — renewed by President Obama last year — forbid people with interests in the U.S. from also conducting most types of business in Zimbabwe.

A spokesman for Forest City Ratner had no comment. A spokesman for Prokhorov did not return a phone call and e-mail.

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Related coverage...

Daily Transom [NYObserver.com], Yet Another Twist to Atlantic Yards

Just when it looks like the Atlantic Yards deal couldn't possibly be derailed--when even the Nets' new owner brandishing his Kalashnikov to 60 Minutes isn't enough to dissuade the N.B.A. from taking him--there comes this, from the Post.

Apparently, Mikhail Prokhorov might have ties to Zimbabwe's dictator Robert Mugabe, and a New Jersey congressman wants to know all about it.

Bruce Ratner's nightmare continues.

Can't Stop The Bleeding, Zimbabwe Illegit: New Nets Owner Has Business Experience In Place Even More Corrupt Than Jersey

Of course, Prokhorov isn’t an American citizen. And double-of-course this sadly probably isn’t going to do anything to impact the creepy oligarch’s ownership of the Nets or the development of Bruce Ratner’s redevelopment of South Brooklyn — architecture critics have already dubbed the ambitious underhaul “Little Tampa,” at least in my mind. It’ll take a lot more than dealing with the monster who absolutely shredded the country he helped create to disqualify a very rich man from buying a franchise in the NBA. The difficult part is coming up with what that could possibly be, short of not having enough money.

The Source [WSJ Blog], Of Billionaires, Basketball and Banned Investments

Could a New Zealand financier’s investments in an African dictatorship derail a lanky Russian billionaire’s dream of owning a U.S. basketball team?
...

In response to questions from The Source, Renaissance Capital replied with the following statement:

Renaissance Capital is fully aware of the sanctions imposed by the United States on certain Zimbabwean persons and companies and takes its compliance obligations extremely seriously. Contrary to erroneous reports in the press, we have at all times strictly complied with all laws and have no relationship with sanctioned individuals or companies.

SW Radio Africa News, Mugabe, the Russian billionaire and basketball

Exiled investment banker, Gilbert Muponda, is familiar with Renaissance Capital’s involvement in Zimbabwe and told Newsreel; ‘They specialize in emerging markets that have a high return, but high risks, and they are experts at quantifying and spreading risk.’ He told us although the company did what any investment bank would do (i.e. seek opportunities) this was in violation of US targeted sanctions and the lawmakers in that country had a good case to charge them.

Found In Brooklyn, Dasvidania to Atlantic Yards Investor Mikhail Prokhorov?

Will an investigation lead to Prokhorov leaving the Atlantic Yards project? We can only hope! The whole project has reeked of corruption from day one yet somehow is a project funded by the taxpayers who will end up with nothing but a sports complex instead of a neighborhood.

ESPN New York with AP, NBA OK with Prokhorov's deals in Africa

The NBA is standing by its (very rich) man.

Prospective New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov came to his own defense Tuesday and was backed by the NBA after a congressman accused the Russian billionaire's company of violating sanctions and U.S. law by doing business with the government of Zimbabwe.

"Onexim Group takes very seriously the issue of law and sanctions as applied to Zimbabwe," Prokhorov said in a statement released through his company during the Nets' final game at the Meadowlands. "Contrary to erroneous media reports, the company and all of its holdings have always been in strict compliance with all United States and European rules regarding Zimbabwe and have had no dealings whatsoever with companies or individuals on the sanctions list."

"Onexim Group and Mikhail Prokhorov have been open and transparent about all their business dealings throughout the extensive NBA review process, and they intend to maintain this position going forward," the statement said.

International human rights law expert and NBA spokesman Mike Bass attempted to set the record straight.

"Congressman Pascrell is misinformed," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. "U.S. companies are not prohibited from doing business in Zimbabwe; rather, they are prohibited from conducting business with specifically identified individuals or entities in that country. The NBA is aware of no information that Mr. Prokhorov is engaged in business dealings with any of these individuals or entities.

"Mr. Prokhorov's application is still on track to be voted on by the NBA Board of Governors once a firm date is set for the State of New York to take full possession of the arena site," Bass said.

Posted by eric at April 12, 2010 11:45 PM