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October 12, 2010

From Matt Taibbi's "Is American Sports Ready for a Real Gangster?"

Atlantic Yards Report

Wrote Daily News Sports columnist Mike Lupica 10/10/10:

Matt Taibbi gives Mikhail Prokhorov more of a vetting in the current Men's Journal than David Stern ever did.

Indeed, considering Taibbi's pungent observations ("Is American Sports Ready for a Real Gangster?"), in retrospect, even the tough part of the 60 Minutes profile last March of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, now the principal owner of the New Jersey Nets, was pretty gentle.

Consider the treatment of Prokhorov's remarkable rise; 60 Minutes reported:

In 1995, Prokhorov and [partner Vladimir] Potanin's bank won the equivalent of the Russian lottery: Kremlin leaders gave them what amounted to an insider's opportunity to buy one of the state's most valuable assets - a huge mining and metal operation called Norilsk Nickel, which is among the world's largest producers of nickel, copper and platinum.

They acquired it from the Kremlin in a so-called auction for the measly sum of a few hundred million dollars, in a process that even Prokhorov's business partner admitted wasn't perfect and probably not even legal under western standards. But it was legal in Russia.

Taibbi, in a Fox Business News interview promoting the article, called the process a scandal.

Auctions "shamelessly" rigged

Here's an excerpt from the article (not online), which offers a bit more context:

The auctions, at least by American standards, were shamelessly, transparently, hilariously rigged. The essence of the scam was the transfer of the state-controlled industrial jewels of the Soviet empire into the hands of a very small group of politically connected individuals. And the best example of them involved Norilsk Nickel... Prokhorov's bank, Oneximbank, helped run the auction, then got itself declared the winner after bidding $170 million to manage a 38 percent stake in a company then worth $1.2 billion. Irrelevant was the fact that another firm had bid twice as much.

The NBA vetting

Taibbi's take: "Who did the checking? Stevie Wonder?

article

NoLandGrab: "Irrelevant was the fact that another firm had bid twice as much?" Where have we heard that one before?

Posted by eric at October 12, 2010 10:25 AM