Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pascrell doesn't buy Prokhorov defense, but evidence regarding sanctions-busting is unclear (and one main holding may get a bye)

There's nothing more definitive regarding whether a firm tied to prospective Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has participated in sanctions-busting in Zimbabwe.

Rep. Bill Pascrell, who initiated the controversy, told The Record that he wouldn't take the denials at face value:
He said he still wants Treasury officials to investigate the matter, and he also criticized the National Basketball Association’s vetting of Prokhorov, who is considered the richest man in Russia.

“It is reasonable to hold the NBA accountable to do what they said they would do — actually investigate Mr. Prokhorov and his business affairs, and determine whether or not he is worthy of owning an American franchise,” Pascrell said in a statement. “The latest news would lead us to conclude he may not. I have a feeling this will play out like so many basketball games - both sides will go back and forth, and it will be the final few plays that determine the outcome.
Still, Pascrell didn't offer any specific new information.

And while sanctions expert Usha Haley was more certain, she wasn't quoted by the Village Voice as giving specifics: "They have been working with Zimbabwe's officials that have been banned by the U.S. government — there's no doubt about that."

A "saving grace" for Prokhorov

Meanwhile, the antigovernment SW Africa Radio News reports:
Investigations by Newsreel show that Prokhorov, through his Renaissance Capital investment bank, snapped up a significant shareholding in the government owned Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe Holdings in 2007.

...The saving grace for Prokhorov, as exiled investment banker Gilbert Muponda explains, is that CBZ Holdings is not on the US targeted sanctions list. This is despite its key role in the sourcing of funds that sustained the oppressive Mugabe regime. Current Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono ran the bank as Chief Executive for several years, earning a reputation as Mugabe’s personal banker. Muponda told us that CBZ was now the country’s biggest bank in terms of deposits, largely owing to help and support from the central bank chief and former boss, Gono.

1 comment:

  1. But as I understand it, the fact that Prokhorov makes money off of an abusive dictator and tyrant whom the world has condemned is NOT in dispute. The only thing in dispute is the fancy legal shenanigans of it all. But really, does the NBA want to have its image tarnished by this clear and obvious association? And further, do we want to be supporting it with our tax dollars? When we give Prokhorov money HERE, he has more to spend THERE. No doubt about that. Just ask him.

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