Alleged Zimbabwe Connection UPDATE

An article entitled \”Of Billionaires, Basketball and Banned Investments\” by William Mauldin appeared in the Wall Street Journal Online today. The Source blog section sheds some light on the alleged Zimbabwe connection and adds perspective. The Source is Europe\’s home for rapid-fire analysis of the day\’s big business and finance stories. It is edited by Lauren Mills, based in London.

Renaissance Capital, the investment banking firm that Mikhail Prokhorov has a minority interest in through his investment fund Onexim, was contacted by The Source and issued a statement, to wit:

\”Renaissance Capital is fully aware of the sanctions imposed by the United States on certain Zimbabwean persons and companies and takes its compliance obligations extremely seriously. Contrary to erroneous reports in the press, we have at all times strictly complied with all laws and have no relationship with sanctioned individuals or companies.\”*

That should end the matter unless some officials in the US government think otherwise. What comes across, in essence, is that Mikhail Prokhorov is a global investor. Much of that is done by those who run his Onexim investment fund.

Renaissance Capital was founded by New Zealander Stephen Jennings. Onexim had funds to invest two years ago after the bottom fell out of commodities and took a minority stake in Renaissance Capital for investment purposes because it was a good value going for less than one fourth of what it was before – not because it invested in Zimbabwe. The investment represented less than three percent of Mikhail Prokhorov\’s net worth and less than two percent of Onexim\’s.

Even if it were possible that Mikhail Prokhorov has some relatively small, indirect far flung investments through his $25 billion Onexim investment fund, anyone with that much capital ($14 billion) to invest might. In any event, the denial by Renaissance Capital would seem to set matters straight.

NBASCOUT is an independent freelance sportswriter that covers the NBA and the New Jersey Nets. He is not affiliated with the National Basketball Association. Copyright 2010 by NBASCOUT, all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the express written consent of the author. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily this website. You may e-mail NBASCOUT in care-of his wife, who writes for children, at

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