In what could be an unprecedented move, Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who ran against Vladimir Putin for president in 2012, plans to move his U.S.-based company, which runs the basketball team, back to Russia after the U.S. levied sanctions on Russia in light of the country’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine.
According to a New York Post report, Prokhorov, the majority owner, is “keeping with the Kremlin’s call on Russian businessmen to repatriate their assets to help combat new US sanctions”:
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The United States and European Union have imposed visa bans and asset freezes on officials and businessmen believed to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin in protest at Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.
“A Russian company will own the basketball club,” Prokhorov reportedly said recently in Russia, according to the Post. “This (move) does not violate any NBA (U.S. National Basketball Association) rules and I will bring it (under Russian jurisdiction) in accordance with Russian law.”
NBA spokesman Mike Bass “said on Monday that it had not been notified of any changes to the Nets’ ownership” and also “did not say whether the NBA would oppose such a move.”
“The Nets are owned by Mikhail Prokhorov through a U.S.-based company,” he said. “We have received no official application nor is there a process underway through our office to transfer the ownership of the Nets to another company.”
According to reports, Prokhorov, who reportedly has not been hit by the sanctions, “also owns a 45% stake in the Barclays arena. Those ownership stakes are controlled by a corporation Prokhorov owns in Delaware called Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holdings USA, Inc.” The New York Daily News noted that “there would be no precedent in American professional sports for a league allowing a franchise’s business operations to go overseas.”