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Learn more about Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia's richest man and future owner of the New Jersey Nets.
According to a report at the time by the respected Kommersant daily, Prokhorov said he met the women at Moscow nightclubs and paid for their trip to France, but never had sex with any of them.
The charges were later dropped, but the scandal changed Prokhorov’s fortunes forever.
It is believed that Vladimir Putin, then president and now prime minister, was less than pleased at the oligarch’s tarnishing of Russia’s image abroad.
One month later, Prokhorov stepped down as CEO of Norilsk Nickel. Thus began a long battle over his role and stake in the company, which finally ended with his selling his 25 percent stake in the venture to RusAl, the aluminum giant owned by oligarch Oleg Deripaska, in April 2008.
A few months later, the financial crisis hit. Prokhorov found himself the sole oligarch sitting on a pile of cash instead of a mountain of debt. He promptly replaced Deripaska as Russia’s richest man, with Forbes putting his worth at $9.5 billion. That also makes him the world’s 40th richest man.
These days, it appears Prokhorov wears a permanent smirk on his face. The prostitution scandal is far behind him, and he is enjoying his status as Russia’s most eligible bachelor. Shortly after the crisis hit, he bought 50 percent of Renaissance Capital, one of Russia’s leading investment banks, for just $500 million, a fraction of its pre-crisis value, and is said to have saved it from near collapse.
Now, he runs Onexim Group, a private investment fund that focuses on technology.
It is through Onexim that Prokhorov made the deal to buy into the Nets, which must still be approved by the team’s board of directors. The deal also gives him an option to buy up to 20 percent of Atlantic Yards Development Co., which will develop real estate near the planned Barclays arena.
“This partnership will ensure the successful completion of a world-class entertainment venue in Brooklyn, the relocation of the NBA Nets basketball team and the economic and housing benefits of the Atlantic Yards Project,” said a joint statement issued Wednesday by Onexim Group, Nets Sports & Entertainment and Forest City Ratner Cos, the group belonging to Bruce Ratner, the Nets’ current owner.