Two days after former basketball manager Moni Fanan's suicide, the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO) launched on Wednesday an investigation against British Broker Nick Levene who allegedly owed several Israeli investors, as well as Fanan, a total of $330 million.
In a press release the SFO wrote "having received complaints about the business activities of Mr. Nicholas Levene, [SFO] has now opened a formal criminal investigation."
The former general manager of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team who committed suicide over alleged investment losses had invested large sums of money on behalf of players and became mired in debt, sources close to the team's management say.
The sources told Haaretz that Fanan's main partner for channeling investments was British broker Nick Levene, who went bankrupt two months ago.
According to the London Times, Levene owed Fanan a sum of $20 million.
Following Fanan's funeral on Tuesday a Maccabi Tel Aviv agent told Haaretz that many team members gave their money to Moni Fanan for investment purposes.
Over the years, rumors of Fanan's financial activities spread, and players and basketball officials began knocking on his door, seeking to invest, the agent said.
Sources close to Fanan told Haaretz that Fanan invested the money he received from players in stocks with Levene. Levene traveled to Israel several times, trying to approach different teams with investment offers, eventually striking up a business relationship with Fanan.
"At some point, Moni became Levine's money channel in Israel," a senior lawyer with knowledge of the situation said. "Moni didn't hang himself because of debts to one player or another. Things turned bad for Moni when he started dealing with really heavy sums, and by the time he really got in trouble, other people were already involved."
Sources at Maccabi Tel Aviv insisted that despite official denials, members of the team's management were well aware of the financial connections between the players and Fanan.
Basketball sources said Tuesday that the financial conflicts came to a head when several past players demanded their money back from Fanan. One of those is alleged to have been Esteban Batista, who currently plays for Spain.
"I don't want to talk about money today," Batista said when approached for comment. "Moni was a good man who took good care of me when I played for Maccabi Tel Aviv. I'm grieving with everybody else today. We'll take care of other issues later."
Levene, who is nicknamed Beano, is the former vice chairman of Leyton Orient soccer Club
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