Thursday, September 14, 2006

West Ham Bid

The Guardian today has a published an interesting story on the men rumoured to be behind the attempt to buy out West Ham.

The key man seems to be Boris Berezovsky, who Kia Joorabchian often acts as a frontman for. Mr Berezovsky has lived in exile in the UK since the Russian authorities charged him with plotting a coup. He now holds a British passport under the name of Platon Elenin, a name he borrowed from the lead character in a film loosely based upon his life.

Berezovsky is also rumoured to be a key figure in MSI, the company which took over Brazilian side Corinthians and which is being investigated by Brazillian authorities for money laundering. The Sao Paulo prosecutor's report says that some of the money allegedly being laundered through Corinthians was "principally [that] of Boris Berezovsky". Berezovsky however denies any involvement in MSI.

Berezovsky made his money with Abramovich, who was first his protege, and then partner in the biggest privatisation deal in Russian history, which saw the creation of Sibneft, a massive oil company, 10 years ago.

According to The Guardian "(Russian president) Putin rounded on many of Russia's leading businessmen six years ago, in an attempt to retrieve the Russian state from the oligarchy, he went first for Mr Berezovsky, the richest and most powerful of them all. Since that point, Mr Abramovich appears to have outplayed and outmanoeuvred his former mentor at every turn.

Mr Berezovsky was forced into exile then pressured into selling many of his assets back to the state. Today he is estimated to be down to his last £800m. The Chelsea owner, on the other hand, remains on Putin's good side, is close to the president's likely successors and spends much of his time in Moscow."

Strangely The Guardian and all the other British papers seem more interested in the rumoured take-over at West Ham than the real dodgy dealing going on with the Spuds.

Tottenham today play Slavia Prague in the UEFA cup. Slavia Prague is 96.2% owned by ENIC Sports Limited who also have a significant if not controlling interest in Tottenham. ENIC managing director David Levy is also chairman of Tottenham and the registered address of ENIC is at Tottenham. In my understanding UEFA rules state that no organisation can own more than one football club, yet no-one seems to be kicking up the same amount of fuss over this as the possibility that West Ham might get taken over.

I for one wonder who ENIC would rather win in the UEFA cup tie between two of their teams and will be looking with interest at the result of this game.

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