Moni Fanan, the former manager and vice chairman of Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball club, hanged himself in his North Tel Aviv apartment yesterday.
Individuals close to Fanan said they believe he had invested large sums of money for other Israeli sports figures in a "gray market" company, and when that firm went bust, the legendary manager decided to end his life. Fanan is estimated to have accumulated debts of up to $20 million.
Around 11 A.M., Fanan's wife Sharon found his lifeless body in the shower at their Ramat Aviv home. She immediately called an ambulance to the home, but paramedics were unable to resuscitate her husband. Police at the scene said they did not suspect criminal activity behind Fanan's death.
Dozens of players and fans of the Maccabi basketball dynasty arrived at the home over the following hours, including national team coach Zvi Sherf, and former star player Oded Katash.
Fanan served as the team's manager for nearly 30 years until last year, and the image he cut - a colorful and hot-blooded figure beside the Maccabi bench - is familiar throughout Israel.
A TheMarker expose written five years ago found that while working at Maccabi, Fanan worked for the You-Share finance and investment firm, which specializes in "gray market" check-cashing and loans.
Fanan admitted several years ago to involvement in the company, but said he never cashed a check for a player or referee involved in Israeli basketball.
Fanan's neighbors declined to speak publicly yesterday on his business activities, but Haaretz has learned that the former manager habitually used money from other figures in Israeli basketball, including referees, coaches and players, and invested it in non-banking investment in exchange for high interest rates.
Sources close to Fanan said it is possible that the bankruptcy of an investment firm outside Israel in which he had invested millions of shekels may have brought the legendary manager to take his own life.
Fanan's debts to former players, coaches and management officials are estimated at around $20 million, and are believed to have been past their deadline.
Unnamed individuals who said they had invested tens of thousands, some even hundreds of thousands, of dollars with Fanan said yesterday that he promised investors yields of 1-1.5 percent a month in cash.
"Dozens of people gave him tremendous amounts of money," said one investor, who added yesterday that he had lost tens of thousands of dollars with Fanan's death.
"He would promise to deliver the monthly yield in cash, and it would arrive in envelopes to some of the people. I have no idea where he would invest the money given to him, but over the years the money would come back like clockwork," he said.
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