Moni Fanan 88.
(photo credit: )
The Israel Basketball Association is set to launch an investigation into rumors that referees invested money in schemes run by former Maccabi Tel Aviv team manager Moni Fanan.
Fanan, who left Maccabi in July 2008 after 16 years in the job, committed suicide at his Ramat Aviv home on Monday.
His death sparked widespread speculation in the Israeli media that he had owed millions of dollars to various individuals, including referees, and had been unable to pay them back.
"The Israel Basketball Association legal advisor Shuki Kremer has the authority to open an inquiry and he is definitely considering doing so," IAB chairman Shai Shani told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
"At the moment these are no more than rumors, but he is definitely considering checking the issue. There is a very clear ethics code for referees that can only be interpreted in one manner. A referee can not be in a position where he is in a conflict of interests.
"The IBA's regulations are very clear. If the rumors turn out to be true then the IBA will prosecute the culprits to the full extent of the law."
While numerous players and coaches have also been reported to have invested with Fanan, the IBA only has a professional responsibility for the referees, who all work for and are paid by the league itself.
Therefore, even if the rumors are proved to be true, the players and coaches will not have violated any specific laws or code of conduct within the basketball world.
However, Shani said the IBA is now considering creating a separate ethical code to govern the actions of players and coaches, although this would not be implemented retroactively.
Sources have told the Post there have been rumors circulating for years about Fanan's involvement in the loan market and how and players and coaches invested in his business.
Shani said this was news to him.
"I absolutely had never heard of these rumors until the last few days. I estimate and hope that it proves to be no more than rumors and speculation," he said.
According to reports in the British press, Fanan was connected to London-based financier Nicholas Levene, who went missing last week after apparently losing Â£200 million of clients' funds.
London's Evening Standard reported that the Serious Fraud Office is considering opening a full inquiry into Levene's operations.
Levene is now believed to be undergoing therapy for stress at The Priory, a residential private psychological clinic.
The Standard quoted "a lawyer with knowledge of Mr Fanan's dealings" who confirmed Fanan's connection with Levene.
"At some point, Moni became Levene's money channel in Israel. Moni didn't hang himself because of debts to one player or another. Things turned bad for Moni when he started dealing with heavy sums. By the time he really got in trouble, other people were involved," the lawyer said.
On Monday it emerged that Levene had quit his position as vice chairman of Leyton Orient, a London soccer club which plays in England's League One.
Although various sources have been quoted anonymously in the Hebrew press alleging that arious players and coaches had invested in Fanan's operation over the years, Maccabi Tel Aviv chairman Shimon Mizrahi told Army Radio on Wednesday he had never had any knowledge of such goings on.