A New Jersey lawmaker wants an investigation into Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian tycoon who wants to purchase the National Basketball Association's New Jersey Nets.
The New York Post reported Sunday that Rep. Bill Pascrell (D) wants to probe the billionaire's dealings with Zimbabwe. U.S. law prohibits American citizens, companies, or American-based subsidiaries, from engaging with the regime of President Robert Mugabe due to human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by his regime.Pascrell believes that companies owned by Prokhorov may have violated the ban.
"This is disgusting," Pascrell said, according to the Post. "Obviously, the Board of Governors of the NBA didn't do their job properly when they vetted this deal."
The veteran lawmaker, who sits on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, said the project received tax-exempt bonds. "It's being financed partly by the taxpayer, and the public has a right to know."
The investigation also could jeopardize the Russian's bid to purchase the Nets, which are trying to move to Brooklyn, New York. The Nets proposed new arena there is part of a broader economic redevelopment project in part of the borough.
Prokhorov (shown here at a Nets game with a friend), if he purchases the Nets, would become the first foreign national to buy a major American sports team.
NBA Commissioner David Stern, in an interview several weeks ago, said Prokhorov has passed background checks by the league and that no one has brought up a reason that he should not own the team.