Russian potential NBA owner and league respond to congressman's call for investigation

A Russian tycoon who wants to purchase an NBA team responded Tuesday to a congressman's request that he be investigate for improper business ties.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) called for a probe into billionaire Mikhai Prokhorov's dealings with Zimbabwe. Prokhorov wants to buy the New Jersey Nets, which want to move to Brooklyn, New York as part of a borader redevelopment project in the borough.

The lawmaker believes that businesses owned by Prokhorov may have violated a ban on American citizens, companies, or American-based subsidiaries from dealing with Zimbabwe over human rights violations.

Prokhorov called the suggestion "erroneous" and the NBA says that Pascrell misinterpreted the law.

In a statement Tuesday Prokhorov saie "the company and all its holdings have always been in strict compliance with all United States and European rules regarding Zimbabwe and we have no dealings whatsoever with companies or individuals on the sanctions list.”

The NBA went one step further clarifying the law as that “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 league said in a statement. “The NBA is aware of no information that Mr. Prokhorov is engaged in business dealings with any of these individuals or entities.”

Pascrell responded late Tuesday, saying he is pushing forward with his call for an investigation:

The statements we have heard in the past day defending Mr. Prokhorov’s dealings in Zimbabwe shouldn’t be surprising, but I’m not going to take them at face value. This is beyond simple. The sanctions are the law of the land, and I’ve asked the Treasury Department to investigate whether they were broken by Mr. Prokhorov’s company. Just as importantly, it is reasonable to hold the NBA accountable to do what they said they would do – actually investigate Mr. Prokhorov, his business affairs, and determine whether he is worthy of owning an American sports franchise. The latest news would lead us to conclude that he may not. I have a feeling this will play out like many basketball games – both sides will go back and forth and it will be the final few plays that will decide the outcome.