Mikhail Prokhorov's

plan to buy the New Jersey Nets may be put on hold as officials look into his possible Zimbabwean holdings. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. of the Ways and Mean Committee will look into whether Prokhorov's companies in Zimbabwe violate rules that forbid American citizens, companies, and subsidiaries from doing business with President Robert Mugabe, known for his frequent human rights violations. Pascrell told the Post, "Obviously, the Board of Governors of the NBA didn't do their job properly when they vetted this deal."

Prokhorov's Renaissance Capital investment bank has interests in various Zimbabwean companies and banks, and was the financial sponsor of an economic forum in Zimbabwe, which is a violation of the sanctions. Renaissance Capital is also partially owned by the Onexim group, the company behind Prohorov's potential ownership of the Nets. Usha Haley at the Economic Policy Institute said the web of corporations looks like "sanctions-busting," where companies attempt to find administrative loopholes to avoid getting caught with sanctions violations. "It's done all the time."

These violations could cause a block on the Nets deal, which could mean trouble for the Atlantic Yards project, which has already been delayed by eminent-domain lawsuits. The NBA's vote on Prokhorov's purchase has been put off until New York can get full possession of the arena site, but a spokesman said Prokhorov had been extensively vetted and they found nothing wrong. "The background and financial investigations have been completed, and there was nothing that was disclosed that would cause us not to move forward with his application for Nets ownership." Of course, longstanding Atlantic Yards holdout Daniel Goldstein isn't surprised at the accusations. "This has been the long-term attitude toward Ratner and his project," he says. "The people charged with protecting our interests turn the other way and ignore improprieties to give the developer what he wants."