NBA free agency brought the Russian Mikhail Prokhorov to Cleveland to try to convince James to go to New Jersey to play basketball and to become a billionaire from business deals and investments. ESPN and other media outlets believe that Nets have a good chance to sign James . However, James and his advisors should be smart enough to do some due diligence and learn who Mikhail Prokhorov is. He known in US as a self made billionaire from Russia. There are several questions to be asked in relation to Mr. Prokhorov. Why is it so easy to become a billionaire in Russia? How did he become so successful? Has he been involved in any financial crime? Even NBA did not even think of trying to find a response to these questions despite some voices that asked for some investigation.
Financial Times reports in April 20, 2010 that “Bill Pascrell, a congressman for New Jersey, is to call for a closer investigation of Renaissance Capital’s alleged ties with Dmitry Kluyev, who was convicted in Russia in 2006 of illegally seizing shares in Mikhailovsky, a major metals plant.” Renaissance Capital is Mr. Prokhorov’s investment bank. New Jersey congressman writes, according to a copy of the letter dated April 19. “I expect the NBA to hold its business partners to a higher standard.”
On April 13, 2008, the Guardian reports that “Mikhail Prokhorov, the oligarch playboy known as Russia’s most eligible bachelor, was arrested in the exclusive French ski resort of Courchevel on suspicion of flying in call-girls from Russia for his fellow partygoers. Few would have guessed that the short-lived scandal – the former chairman of mining firm Norilsk Nickel was released four days later without charge – would spiral into the biggest ‘battle of the oligarchs’ in Russia’s post-Soviet history.”
Mikhail Prokhorov is only one of many Russians who benefited during a time when government owned companies were privatized. The Guardian mentioned several oligarchs who “made their fortunes during the murky privatizations of the Nineties, when being bumped off was an occupational hazard. One, Alisher Usmanov, who has bought a £120m stake in Arsenal football club to the dismay of fans, spent six years in an Uzbek penal colony serving time for fraud and embezzlement, charges that were eventually overturned. The oligarch at the centre of this saga – Oleg Deripaska, the owner of aluminium giant Rusal – himself emerged as victor of the often-violent so-called aluminium wars of the Nineties.”
If LeBron ends up being an associate of Mikhail Prokhorov, he might end up loosing rather than winning. Mikhail Prokhorov’s business deals will be scrutinized even further.