Politics

Russian billionaire sold the Brooklyn Nets under pressure from Putin, report says


Billionaire Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov sold the Brooklyn Nets for $2.3 billion in 2019 under pressure from Vladimir Putin to prove his loyalty, according to a new report.

‘Putin strongly suggested he sell the Nets’ and Prokhorov risked losing his fortune in Russia if he refused, a source close to the situation told the New York Post in a report on Tuesday. 

Prokhorov, a financial and precious metals tycoon worth an estimated $11.4 billion, first sold a 49 percent stake in the Nets to Alibaba executive Joseph Tsai for $1 billion in 2019.

The following year he sold Tsai his remaining 51 percent stake for $1.35 billion, in addition to unloading the Barclays Center arena for $1 billion, in the biggest transaction ever for a US sports team.

The purported reason for the sale? ‘You couldn’t be pro-Russian and own an NBA team,’ another source who knows Prokhorov told the outlet.

Representatives for Prokhorov did not immediately respond to an inquiry from DailyMail.com, but a spokesman for the billionaire strongly denied that he had been under pressure to sell in a statement to the Post.

Billionaire Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov sold the Brooklyn Nets for $2.3 billion in 2019 under pressure from Vladimir Putin to prove his loyalty, according to a new report

Billionaire Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov sold the Brooklyn Nets for $2.3 billion in 2019 under pressure from Vladimir Putin to prove his loyalty, according to a new report

Prokhorov is seen with Putin in 2014 at an awards ceremony

Prokhorov is seen with Putin in 2014 at an awards ceremony

Prokhorov is seen with Putin in 2014 at an awards ceremony at the Kremlin. The billionaire, who stands 6-foot-8, made his fortune in finance and precious metals

‘Mikhail had said for years before Joe Tsai appeared that he was open for discussion about the Nets, the spokesperson said.

‘He was not pressured by anyone to sell, unless you mean the ‘pressure’ of the attractive offer he received for the team and the arena at the time.’ 

At the time Prokhorov sold the Nets, Russia was facing pressure and sanctions over Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. 

Though Prokhorov has not been targeted by US sanctions, he was named as one of many ‘Russian oligarchs’ pursuant to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act which former President Donald Trump signed into law in 2017.

Insiders told the Post that the NBA was relieved when Prokhorov sold the team, because the league feared scrutiny over their decision to approve his ownership in the event that tensions with Russia increased.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week, and the massive Western sanctions that have followed, Prokhorov’s decision to sell the team now seems prescient.

At the time Prokhorov sold the Nets, Russia was facing pressure and sanctions over Putin's 2014 annexation of Crimea

At the time Prokhorov sold the Nets, Russia was facing pressure and sanctions over Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea

Prokhorov, a financial and precious metals tycoon worth an estimated $11.4 billion, first sold a 49 percent stake in the Nets to Alibaba executive Joseph Tsai (above) for $1 billion in 2019

Prokhorov, a financial and precious metals tycoon worth an estimated $11.4 billion, first sold a 49 percent stake in the Nets to Alibaba executive Joseph Tsai (above) for $1 billion in 2019

Had he retained ownership, he might now be in the situation facing Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire owner of the British Premier League team Chelsea FC.

Following the Russian invasion, Abramovich is reportedly attempting to sell the team in the face of potential asset freezes. 

Chelsea and Abramovich’s representatives have not disputed Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss saying he ‘received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich’ along with three other people.

‘Abramovich is currently asking far too much,’ Wyss was quoted as telling Swiss newspaper Blick. 

Abramovich has never held UK citizenship, and made his fortune selling assets purchased from the state when the USSR broke up. He vehemently denies being close to the Kremlin or doing anything that would merit sanctions. 

'He was not pressured by anyone to sell, unless you mean the 'pressure' of the attractive offer he received for the team and the arena at the time,' a spokesperson for Prokhorov said

‘He was not pressured by anyone to sell, unless you mean the ‘pressure’ of the attractive offer he received for the team and the arena at the time,’ a spokesperson for Prokhorov said

As Russia’s war on Ukraine entered a seventh day, the British government was yet to say if Abramovich would be included among the wealthy Russians to be targeted in sanctions. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was not ‘appropriate’ to comment on individual cases when asked in the House of Commons why Abramovich was not facing sanctions yet. 

Chelsea, the reigning European champion, owes Abramovich more than $2 billion in loans after 19 years of injecting cash to elevate the club into one of the most successful in Europe.

Parliamentary privilege had been used by Labour Party legislator Chris Bryant to claim in the House of Commons on Tuesday that Abramovich was already looking to sell London properties, speculating that ‘he´s terrified of being sanctioned.’

Bryant added: ‘The danger is that Mr Abramovich will have sold everything by the time we get round to sanctioning him.’ 



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

close