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Book: NBA hired CIA spymaster to vet Prokhorov

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Jack Devine, a retired CIA official and private investigator, writes in his new book,  "Good Hunting" about how the NBA had him investigate Mikhail Prokhorov in 2009-10. The vetting included checking whether the Nets prospective owner had ties to the Russian mob.

Devine said his team found none after "extensive research," and informed David Stern of same. Here's the excerpt on the NBA vetting.

"Another client, the National Basketball Association, had occasional overseas issues.  A particularly delicate matter involved the review of Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire bachelor who had agreed to pay $200 million for an 80 percent share of t New Jersey Nets and a 45 percent stake in the team's new arena in Brooklyn.  The case proved to extremely complex and challenging, beginning with his arrest in January 2007 by French police in Courchevel, an opulent ski resort in the French Alps. reportedly on the suspicion of providing his guestswith prostitutes.

"He was released four days later, with no charges filed, but the episode allegedly led to the Russian government to pressure Prokhorov to sell his 26 percent share in Norilsk Nickel, the largest nickel producer, to his business partner. Speculation swirled in Moscow that Prokhorov had been set up in Courchevel, though French police said they had been investigating Russian prostitution at the resort for some time.

"Despite the colorful publicity, extensive research revealed that Prokhorov had no ties to organized crime and that his financials qualified him to become a Nets owner. He took control of the Nets in May 2010."

US government officials told NetsDaily the same thing in 2009, shortly after Prokhorov agreed to buy the team. "There's nothing in our files," said one official.

Devine's book chronicles his exploits both as a spy and the founder of The Arkin Group, an international risk assessment and intelligence