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ribero1
24 Nov 19 21:21
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Date Joined: 08 Mar 03
| Topic/replies: 10,492 | Blogger: ribero1's blog
Looks as though its money has come from a ponzi scam,headline story in tomorrows RP.
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Report mrcombustible November 24, 2019 9:35 PM GMT
Phoenix Thoroughbreds founder accused of stealing €100m from global Ponzi scam
Amer Abdulaziz: one of the most high-profile figures in international racing
Amer Abdulaziz: one of the most high-profile figures in international racing
Sarah Farnsworth
1 of 1
By Peter Scargill
UPDATED 9:01PM, NOV 24 2019
 
Phoenix Thoroughbreds founder Amer Abdulaziz Salman has been named as a key figure in a major money-laundering operation for an international cryptocurrency fraud from which he allegedly stole €100 million before launching his global racehorse ownership enterprise, a US court heard this month.

The stunning claim came during the testimony of Konstantin Ignatov, the co-founder of fake cryptocurrency OneCoin, as part of the trial of US lawyer Mark Scott, who on Thursday was found guilty of fraud and laundering $400m in illegal funds for the OneCoin founders.

The Racing Post has been unable to verify the allegation, made under oath in a New York court, and multiple attempts to contact Abdulaziz for comment over the weekend have been unsuccessful. Abdulaziz's bloodstock agent, Dermot Farrington, is understood to have quit his role after becoming aware of the accusation.

Dubai-based Abdulaziz, 56, launched Phoenix Thoroughbreds in 2017 as the “world’s first regulated thoroughbred fund” and has since become one of the most high-profile figures in international racing and bloodstock, often flexing the significant financial muscle of his fund at the sales and through private purchases.

Phoenix Thoroughbreds founder Amer Abdulaziz at a sale last year
Phoenix Thoroughbreds founder Amer Abdulaziz at a sale last year
Ignatov, who pleaded guilty this month to money-laundering and fraud as part of the estimated $4 billion scam, has been cooperating with US prosecutors and alleged Abdulaziz was one of the operation’s web of money-cleaners under the guidance of Gilbert Armenta, boyfriend of OneCoin’s other co-founder Dr Ruja Ignatova.

Asked in court who Armenta worked with, Ignatov said: “Mark Scott, Amer Abdulaziz and Alex Ortega.”

Ignatov went on to claim Abdulaziz stole from the scam, which involved the creation of a fake cryptocurrency that investigators say in fact amounted to a Ponzi scheme.

He said: “Amer Abdulaziz, after he stole €100m from OneCoin, he started buying racehorses for, like, €25m. [He was] one of the main money-launderers for Ruja.”

Ignatov added the theft was not reported as “the money came from a criminal activity”, while Abdulaziz is allegedly named in emails between Ruja Ignatova and her co-conspirators.

The Racing Post has also seen a draft transcript of the September 2018 interview between Mark Scott and FBI agents after he was arrested on suspicion of money-laundering, in which he claimed a Dubai-based investment fund named Phoenix was sent $190m.

The story explained: our guide to the key players

In an interview earlier this year, Abdulaziz said he created Phoenix as an equine investment fund geared towards providing investors with a "sustainable return realised through acquisition and breeding of top-quality thoroughbreds" and claimed to have raised $250m.

However, Abdulaziz has never disclosed who his investors are – citing a desire to protect his client base – other than to say they are “non-racing people”. He has talked about his plan to launch a second, larger fund having used the first fund as a promotional tool.

Having initially had horses solely with former Newmarket trainer Jeremy Noseda, Phoenix has since mushroomed to having an estimated 300 horses under its banner, including stallions and broodmares, with 27 trainers on five continents, according to its website.

However, there have been controversies during Phoenix’s time with Noseda. Kerri Radcliffe, Abdulaziz's first bloodstock agent, was fired by him last year and he has since relied on Farrington, the son-in-law of Advertise’s trainer Martyn Meade, for his buying.

Signora Cabello (white) lands the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2018
Signora Cabello (white) lands the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2018
CAROLINE NORRIS
Phoenix and Abdulaziz have enjoyed significant success on the racecourse worldwide including Grade/Group 1 wins in the US and Australia, alongside the Royal Ascot victories of Signora Cabello in the 2018 Queen Mary Stakes and Advertise in this year’s Commonwealth Cup, a race in which Forever In Dreams finished second for Phoenix Ladies, a female-only arm of the Phoenix brand created in late 2018 with the aim of increasing the participation of women in racing in the UAE.

The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which prosecuted Mark Scott, declined to comment on Sunday when asked if Abdulaziz was a person of interest, while the FBI said it “neither confirms nor denies” having an interest in the Phoenix founder.

Comment has been sought from law enforcement agencies in the UK.

Read more about this story in Monday's Racing Post or with Members' Club Ultimate:

Phoenix boss defaulted on payments for horses on previous foray into racing

Advertise the headline act of a bloodstock portfolio which spreads worldwide
Report mrcombustible November 24, 2019 9:39 PM GMT
Everything you need to know about the OneCoin court case
Advertise (white silks): a prominent performer for Phoenix Thoroughbreds
Advertise (white silks): a prominent performer for Phoenix Thoroughbreds
1 of 1
By Peter Scargill
UPDATED 9:04PM, NOV 24 2019
 
Phoenix Thoroughbreds founder Amer Abdulaziz was named in court as part of the trial of an individual linked to a major global scam, OneCoin.

What is OneCoin?
OneCoin is an international Ponzi scheme created in 2014 around a fake online cryptocurrency designed to cash in on the excitement surrounding BitCoin, a legitimate cryptocurrency created in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

OneCoin was promoted globally as a means of liberalising and decentralising banking for the masses with people able to buy OneCoin in the hope of the currency being worth significantly more in the future once it became tradeable, as was the case with BitCoin.

However, unlike BitCoin, OneCoin has no verifiable blockchain, an online ledger that tracks all transactions and prevents the price being artificially altered.

OneCoin can also not be traded for any other form of tangible currency, such as pounds or euros, or used to buy products other than on a debunked online marketplace called dealshaker.com.

Who is Konstantin Ignatov?
Konstantin Ignatov, 33, is the co-founder and younger brother of Dr Ruja Ignatova, the face of OneCoin and a missing person since October 2017.

Ignatov continued to run OneCoin after the disappearance of his sister before being arrested by US officials at Los Angeles airport in March 2019.

Konstantin Ignatov
Konstantin Ignatov
Ignatov pleaded guilty this month to two counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud and one count of money laundering, having struck a plea bargain with US prosecutors to act as a cooperating witness to identify other members of the OneCoin scam in return for immunity to further prosecution. He faces up to 90 years in prison.

Who is Mark Scott?
Mark Scott, 51, was convicted last Thursday of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud after a three-week trial in New York.

Scott, a former partner of law firm Locke Lord LLP, was recruited by Gilbert Armenta, the boyfriend of Ruja Ignatova, to launder approximately $400 million of stolen funds through US accounts, for which he was paid $50m by the scammers.

Scott, who bragged of earning “50 by 50”, used his money to buy luxury cars, a yacht, and several seaside homes prior to his arrest in September 2018.

The lawyer, who was bailed to his home in Florida, is due in court for sentencing on February 21 next year. He faces up to 50 years in prison.

Who is Amer Abdulaziz Salman?
Amer Abdulaziz, 56, is the founder of Dubai-based fund Phoenix Fund Investments Ltd and Phoenix Thoroughbreds.

Born in Bahrain, Abdulaziz rose to prominence from out of the blue in 2017 when launching what he described as “the world’s first regulated thoroughbred fund” and subsequently went on a high-profile spending spree across Europe, the USA and Australia.


Amer Abdulaziz: founder of Phoenix Fund Investments Ltd and Phoenix Thoroughbreds
Amer Abdulaziz: founder of Phoenix Fund Investments Ltd and Phoenix Thoroughbreds
Sarah Farnsworth
Often seen at the races and sales, as well as being prominent in the media, Abdulaziz initially had his horses with ex-Newmarket trainer Jeremy Noseda before firing him and broadening out to several yards.

Abdulaziz has consistently talked of using his initial Phoenix Thoroughbreds fund as a promotional tool for a second, larger fund but has never disclosed any of his clients.

What is Phoenix Thoroughbreds?
Phoenix Thoroughbreds is a multinational thoroughbred ownership brand launched in 2017 by Amer Abdulaziz.

It describes itself as “an emerging force on the global racing stage” on its website with the stated ambition of competing with the likes of superpowers Coolmore and Godolphin.

There are an estimated 300 horses, including broodmares and stallions such as Aclaim and Advertise, under the Phoenix umbrella with at least 27 trainers in Britain, Ireland, France, America, Australia, Dubai and Argentina.

Phoenix has enjoyed success on the racecourse with the likes of Group/Grade 1 winners Dream Tree, Loving Gaby and Advertise, as well as Signora Cabello and Gronkowski, who is reportedly being aimed at the $20m Saudi Cup in February.

Read The Lowdown from 8.30am daily on racingpost.com and the Racing Post app for all the day's going updates, news and tips
Report ribero1 November 24, 2019 10:13 PM GMT
Not long ago he was talking a good game on Luck on Sunday and they were lapping it up,just noticed he's named a 2 million filly "Luck on Sunday" ffs.
Report Black Sam Bellamy November 25, 2019 2:35 AM GMT
This guy has previous, ask the Irish bloodstock agent he left virtually bankrupt after not honoring his purchases last time around.
Report Insanity Later November 25, 2019 9:00 AM GMT
I read this yesterday about Dr. Ruja Ignatova (who has now disappeared) and the history of the Onecoin scam.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-50435014

.
Report Too Easy November 25, 2019 9:34 AM GMT
Fascinating read Insanity.  Thanks for sharing
Report ged November 25, 2019 10:52 AM GMT
Here's the Luck on Sunday interview with the man...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biXf6GrnYKY
Report ribero1 November 25, 2019 10:59 AM GMT
Apparently he likes to be called Tyson after his hero the boxer.
Report Whippin Piccadilly November 25, 2019 12:27 PM GMT
Like a house of cards..............I'm sure Jeremy Noseda will allow himself a wry smile today. Happy
Report truehoncho November 25, 2019 12:51 PM GMT
Well let's hope trainers don't have to pay back all the training fees they got from the alleged stolen money. There will be no wry smiles then!
Report notosoundeffectsontvracing November 25, 2019 12:53 PM GMT
Noseda knew what he was doing when he "retired" very shrewed move...
Report pixie November 25, 2019 12:54 PM GMT
If it were bookies, they'd be paying back stakes and be fined heavily!
Report grappler November 25, 2019 1:05 PM GMT
rp quite happy to splash this but absolutely nothing about shakemo and his attempt to take all the horses away from wife n6. she appealed to weatherbys and the beasts were returned. but this is a non-racing story according to the dismal rag.
Report geoff m November 25, 2019 2:26 PM GMT
a cryptocurrency that didnt exist and raises 100s of millions.

How stupid or greedy are folks who have done their dough.
Report sageform November 25, 2019 2:28 PM GMT
Money laundering by the sound off it. Headache for a few trainers.
Report geoff m November 25, 2019 2:36 PM GMT
On why the decision was taken to regulate the fund in Luxembourg, he adds: "The transparency there is 200%. We don't want people to have doubts about us and where our money is coming from. We are a proper set-up and we want to be different. We want to come and play a major role in this industry."

Playing such a role takes plenty of cash and this is where things start to reach the eye-watering stage. The fund, which will be liquidated in its fifth year as a second is launched, is worth a staggering $250 million, and the plan is for future funds to be much bigger.

"I want to give confidence to my investors and I didn't want to just do a small syndication, where I go and bring two or three people in," says the Bahrain-born businessman.

"I wanted to do it big, so instead of investing $5 miliion and managing ten horses, I wanted to have $250 million to invest in what I call the full product, from stallions to broodmares to yearlings to 2-year-olds, all under one roof.

"This is the first fund but, of course, the second fund will be a lot bigger. Since we managed to win races, people know who we are now. We have a winning track record and people want to do business with us.

"Because of this, my life has become a lot easier. It's easier to go to potential investors and say, 'This is who we are, this is our track record.'"

Therein lies one of the problems encountered by Abdulaziz. For all his meticulous planning, he can never guarantee success but he takes comfort from the fact the reality is not all that different from any other investment.

He explains: "You might succeed or you might not succeed—it's like any other business opportunity. Some investors like to take risks, where the higher the investment, the higher the return. Some are very conservative and we have met both.

"Sometimes, with the conservative people, we say 'It's OK, you don't need to put in a lot of money. Just put in half a million, a million, and wait and see.' That's what we've managed to do, those small investors are happy, they can see what we're doing and their appetite is increasing."
Report geoff m November 25, 2019 2:37 PM GMT
Fools and their money are soon parted.
Report truehoncho November 25, 2019 2:56 PM GMT
I have a feeling that him and his liberty will soon be parted.
Report howard November 25, 2019 3:30 PM GMT
Barney said when you buy a racehorse you lose a big percentage of your money overnight. Guess this view didn't  feature in their promo video.
Report ImSoLuckyLucky! November 25, 2019 7:22 PM GMT
Seems they are denying any illegally activities

Devil
Report Early Morning Riser November 25, 2019 8:39 PM GMT
Phoenix Fund response to recent allegations:

"Phoenix Fund Investments LLC categorically denies all allegations made against it, and its owner, Mr. Amer Abdulaziz, in legal proceedings against OneCoin and its conspirators in the US..."
Report posy November 25, 2019 8:49 PM GMT
Has Martyn Meade said anything yet....his son in law is connected with phoenix
Report Early Morning Riser November 25, 2019 8:58 PM GMT
Leading Saudi Arabian owner Khalid bin Mishref has bought into this year's Dubai World Cup runner-up Gronkowski, owners Phoenix Thoroughbreds have confirmed.

Mishref is no stranger to international ownership. A regular at the leading global sales, he has seen his green and white silks carried to victory in the US, Britain and his native Saudi Arabia.

The announcement is likely to spark some excitement in Saudi Arabia with the inaugural Saudi Cup named as one of the primary targets for Gronkowski as part of an ambitious campaign.

A longtime friend and ally of his new partners, Mishref aided Phoenix CEO Amer Abdulaziz on a fact-finding mission to Riyadh this year as the group's founder explored the possibilities of racing in Saudi Arabia.

"We are delighted to welcome Khalid bin Mishref to the Phoenix Thoroughbreds team," Abdulaziz said. "We pride ourselves on our international growth, and to have a man of Khalid's experience joining the team at such an exciting stage of Gronkowski's career is a major plus.
"It was an easy decision to invest with Phoenix Thoroughbreds," explained the Saudi owner. "Not only is Gronkowski a world-class racehorse, but Phoenix's international ambitions mirror my own.

"A chance to be part of a horse of this calibre doesn't come around that often, so I was delighted to be given the opportunity. It's very exciting to think he'll be lining up in the Saudi Cup in front of Saudi racing fans. I'm sure that this will be a very successful partnership
Report impossible123 November 26, 2019 12:01 PM GMT
How appropriate the name Pheonix,...arises from its ashes and disappears soon after. But, no one in the horsey fraternity questioned its rise and origin of money buying expensive horses in auctions.

Money laundering in horses so soon after the near demise of fobts. What next? People trafficking and/or narcotics?
Report geoff m November 26, 2019 12:12 PM GMT
Never ever regulated.
Whoda thunked it?
Report sageform November 26, 2019 12:20 PM GMT
Agreed it does not look satisfactory but if every new owner or every new small business was subject to inspection, how many inspectors would be required and who pays?
Report impossible123 November 26, 2019 12:42 PM GMT
But mega purchases from a new entrant with little known personal and/or financial info of purchaser? This is even murkier than when Harrods was bought by the "colourful" corner shop entrepreneur whose eldest son died in the car crash as Princess Diana.

If the allegations were true eg the founder was a money launderer for that ponzi scheme One-Coin he he ought to be flogged in public or dragged round Newcastle racecourse just like some chariot participants in the film Benhur.
Report sageform November 26, 2019 1:00 PM GMT
It is bad for the sport and for other syndicates after a similar event in Ireland with Supreme horseracing.
Report impossible123 November 26, 2019 1:18 PM GMT
Horse Racing = dodgy individuals/entities as evidenced by the illegal and inappropriate use of narcotics by trainers and "misappropriated" monies by owners.

How many parents warmed to their sibling taking a saturday job in a bookie whilst still at school? None, Harrods or Waitrose ok - a bookie a definite no, no.

But, at the end of the day Money Talks!
Report onlooker November 26, 2019 3:07 PM GMT
Phoenix allegations to be investigated as a priority by BHA

By Scott Burton
UPDATED 9:10PM, NOV 25 2019

The BHA will prioritise its investigation into allegations made against Phoenix Thoroughbreds founder Amer Abdulaziz Salman in a New York court earlier this month.

British racing's governing body has wide-ranging powers to restrict any individual or company's activities in racing but is in the process of gathering further information from financial and legal authorities into the allegations.

A BHA spokesperson said on Monday: "The BHA is aware of the allegations which are emanating from a criminal case in the United States. We are in contact with the appropriate authorities and are continuing to make inquiries as a priority. We cannot comment further on the specifics of this case at this time."

The spokesperson added: "More generally, British racing takes its reputation – and its responsibility to protect its participants from potentially corrupt activity – very seriously. Wide-ranging criteria are in place for the suitability of those involved in the sport, and every application for registration as an owner is assessed in line with these criteria.

"If an individual is found to have acted in a manner which makes them unsuitable to be an owner then their registration can be rescinded. There are also strict rules against engaging in conduct which is prejudicial to the sport's good reputation."

Abdulaziz was named in a US court this month by a witness in a money-laundering trial relating to the international cryptocurrency scam OneCoin.

The witness alleged Abdulaziz acted as a key money launderer for the operation before stealing €100 million from the scheme to fund his ownership vehicle.
--------------

Phoenix allegations to be investigated as a priority by BHA


BHA - Coming to the party a bit late.Happy
Report blackbarn November 26, 2019 7:12 PM GMT
Impossible123 - and I know you were only quoting from others saying "But mega purchases from a new entrant with little known personal and/or financial info of purchaser etc etc?"

But this bloke has history....

Peter Scargill NOV 24 2019
 
Prior to the launch of Phoenix Thoroughbreds in 2017, Amer Abdulaziz Salman defaulted on payments for a number of horses purchased on his behalf at auctions in the USA.
Burgeoning bloodstock agent Ajay Anne bought horses from Fasig-Tipton (FT) and Keeneland in Kentucky during 2010 on behalf of a Dubai-based consortium headed by Abdulaziz, having reportedly been introduced to the owner through a mutual friend. Anne signed for bloodstock totalling $1.945 million at FT with a further $300,000 spent on two mares from Keeneland the same autumn.However, Anne was left in the lurch when after several months neither FT nor Keeneland had been paid by Abdulaziz, who claimed an administrative issue had caused the delay when contacted by the Racing Post. He said on March 3, 2011: “We purchased the horses because they are very exciting, top quality. There have been some delays because of the formation of the investment company and that is being finalised. We are just liquidating the funds into the company’s account. As we speak the payment is being made. “Everything was finalised two days ago, so we are looking at closing the deal in the next couple of days. There was some delay with the licensing, there was some delay with the investors, but all that has been finalised. "By next week, we will be able to sign all the contracts and go ahead with it. Once the payment of the horses is finalised, then we can move on to the next stage.”
Despite the assurances offered by Abdulaziz, the horses were not paid for and returned to auction in the autumn of 2011 to recover the outstanding debt.

In 2010, Abdulaziz also agreed to purchase a farm in Lexington for in excess of $10m, but failed to complete the transaction. Abdulaziz did not reappear in the racing and bloodstock world until the summer of 2017 when he launched a new buying spree under the Phoenix Thoroughbreds umbrella. Abdulaziz did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
Report sageform November 26, 2019 7:40 PM GMT
That makes the whole thing totally unacceptable. What were the auctioneers doing allowing a known defaulter to bid those sort of sums?
Report truehoncho November 26, 2019 9:52 PM GMT
The auctioneer's greed cloud their judgement. But they got it back in spades this time around though, didn't they? Clever auctioneers, who cares where the money come from no one will have to give it back!!! Wish I had got some, it came from mugs gambling on get rich quick schemes anyway (not that anyone on here would be so gullible).
Report sageform November 27, 2019 11:58 AM GMT
If it is proceeds of crime they might have to give it back.
Report truehoncho December 2, 2019 11:40 AM GMT
I see the RP has more on this today (not that I can read it as it's for members only). They seem to have got their teeth into this one. Shame they couldn't treat other issues with the same enthusiasm.
Report posy December 2, 2019 12:18 PM GMT
Surely the RP should have made a splash about him before this debacle blew up
Report geoff m December 2, 2019 12:43 PM GMT
What a coincidence One Coin scammers have their offices in Phoenix premises.
Report truehoncho December 2, 2019 1:25 PM GMT
Maybe they got cheap rent!!!!!
Report ribero1 December 2, 2019 2:40 PM GMT
Sands of Mali,wildcard entry last lot for sale tonight Tatts December sale.
Report blackbarn December 2, 2019 3:02 PM GMT
By Peter Scargill
6:33PM, DEC 1 2019
 
Fraudulent cryptocurrency OneCoin, which has been exposed as a $4 billion global Ponzi scheme and is the subject of criminal investigations in the USA, had an office in a Dubai business centre operated by Phoenix Thoroughbreds founder Amer Abdulaziz Salman.

The international racing community was stunned last week when it emerged Abdulaziz had been named during court proceedings into the OneCoin scandal by a witness testifying in a US criminal trial. Konstantin Ignatov, one of the founders of OneCoin, claimed Abdulaziz acted as a key money-launderer for the operation, before stealing €100 million to fund his racing enterprise.

The accusations were strenuously denied by Phoenix Thoroughbreds, the racing arm of Abdulaziz's Dubai-based Phoenix Fund Investments. Phoenix's other investments include the Phoenix Business Center, which operates from the 49th floor of Ubora Towers in Dubai.

Based on video evidence and numerous posts to social media seen by the Racing Post, it appears OneCoin ran its UAE division at Phoenix's business centre from November 2017 until about the spring of 2018.

Phoenix Business Center opened in November 2017, with a marketing message posted in October that year stating: “Phoenix Business Center is opening its doors . . . we are waiting to welcome you to our premises.”

OneCoin was among the first parties to take up residence in the offices, although evidence seen by the Racing Post does not suggest any closer connection between the companies or that Abdulaziz was aware of the relationship.

Posting on Facebook on November 2, 2017, a Dubai manager for OneLife, the promotional and marketing arm of OneCoin, wrote: “Yes Our New OneLife/OneCoin office in Dubai Ubora Tower 49th Floor.”

A post on Facebook in November 2017 by a OneLife Dubai manager
A post on Facebook in November 2017 by a OneLife Dubai manager
The message contains pictures of the serviced office space including a meeting room, which can also been seen on the Phoenix Business Center website, images of Dr Ruja Ignatova, the co-founder of OneCoin who has been missing since October 2017, and Velizara Ivanova, OneCoin’s general manager in the region.

Furthermore, several videos show visitors at the OneCoin office, including one posted to YouTube on January 24, 2018 which shows a meeting taking place between Ivanova and a group of Russian OneCoin investors. This includes shots from the outside of Ubora Tower and from inside where the Phoenix logo is clearly visible prior to the meeting taking place.

Phoenix logo visible in YouTube video posted by Russian OneCoin investors in January 2018
Phoenix logo visible in YouTube video posted by Russian OneCoin investors in January 2018
Talking to the group, Ivanova said: “Dr Ruja will definitely be very pleased to meet all of you guys if she was in Dubai, but she is on a holiday. We as employees are really very busy to be there for you day and night.

“Dr Ruja, we text and email her, Dr Ruja's brother as well, Konstantin is also very active . . . he is the second level down from Ruja.”

Konstantin Ignatov was arrested and convicted of fraud and money-laundering in the USA this year. He faces up to 90 years in prison, but has since been a cooperating witness with prosecutors to avoid further sanctions.

Testifying under oath in the money laundering trial of lawyer Mark Scott, who has since been found guilty and faces up to 50 years in prison, Ignatov named Abdulaziz as allegedly being one of OneCoin’s key lieutenants in moving illegal money across the globe.

Phoenix Thoroughbreds burst onto the scene from out of the blue in 2017 with a string of high-profile purchases at the sales, while the likes of Advertise, Signora Cabello, Gronkowski and Loving Gaby have carried the group’s orange and white colours with distinction on the course. The organisation has 300 horses, including mares and stallions, on five continents according to its website.

Abdulaziz frequently lauded Phoenix as being “the world’s first regulated thoroughbred fund”, promising lucrative returns to prospective investors, but the Racing Post revealed last week that the fund had been placed into voluntary liquidation in Luxembourg, and had never been regulated or operated as a functioning fund at all.

Abdulaziz has not responded to continued attempts for comment from the Racing Post, but a statement released last Monday by Phoenix Thoroughbreds said: “Phoenix Fund Investments LLC categorically denies all allegations made against it, and its owner, Mr Amer Abdulaziz, in legal proceedings against OneCoin and its conspirators in the US.

“Phoenix Fund Investments LLC believes that the firm and Mr Amer Abdulaziz have acted according to the law at all times, and will vigorously contest all allegations of wrongdoing. Phoenix Fund Investments LLC will fully cooperate with relevant authorities should they require any assistance.”

Read The Lowdown from 8.30am daily on racingpost.com and the Racing Post app for all the day's going updates, news and tips



FIRST PUBLISHED 7:30PM, DEC 1 2019
Report blackbarn December 2, 2019 3:07 PM GMT
COMMENT LEE MOTTERSHEAD
Wider questions raised by a Phoenix storm that could not have occurred in Japan

3:12PM, DEC 1 2019
 
It would not have happened in Japan.
Regardless of whether or not Amer Abdulaziz Salman is innocent or guilty of stealing €100 million from a global Ponzi scam, Phoenix Thoroughbreds could never have become embroiled in a Japanese racing furore because Phoenix Thoroughbreds would never have been allowed entry into Japanese racing.
When writing about Abdulaziz and the Phoenix situation a journalist is inevitably walking a fine line. There is no intention here, nor is there any need, to cross that line. No allegations are being made on this page, for a simple analysis of the available facts is sufficient for us to know Phoenix could not have been allowed to own horses in Japan.

Moreover, even without attempting to play judge and jury in this particular case, last week's revelations should make us ask questions about racehorse ownership in our part of the world.

Later this week the Racing Post will publish two special reports that seek to demystify racing in Japan. We have become increasingly used to seeing star Japanese horses contesting showpiece prizes around the world but it is perhaps surprising how little the racing world knows about Japanese racing. The upcoming articles will lift a lid on an extraordinary sporting product. In a nutshell, however, everything in Japan revolves around integrity. That is most definitely true in relationship to ownership.

It was only in 2009 that the government-affiliated Japan Racing Association – which controls the top tier of racing and stages all the Grade 1 action – first began to accept applications from non-Japanese residents. However, consideration is only given to requests from individual owners, meaning an entity such as Phoenix would not have passed first base.

The reason for that is the JRA needs to fully convince itself of a potential owner's propriety. To make that possible international applicants must present to the JRA the story of their financial life. Tax returns for the previous two years have to be handed over together with documents showing the amount of tax paid. Prospective owners must tell the JRA about all their assets and offer up the full accounts of any company in which they are involved, either as an owner or employee. Applicants must have no criminal record, they need to register for a Japanese bank account and they are compelled to appoint a liaison officer residing in Japan.

That being the case, it is highly unlikely a person with any sort of dubious past would bother to apply. Even if such a person did apply, it is even more unlikely that person would survive a registration process that takes around six months.

In a booklet entitled, 'Guide to Application for JRA Owner Registration for Non-Residents of Japan', the JRA clearly lays out the reasons why it makes the journey so tough.

The JRA states: "Horseracing managed by the JRA is subject to its own specific rules. It is quite possible that many of these differ from the situation to which you are accustomed as horse owners in your country or region . . . While we appreciate how difficult it may be to gather all relevant materials, we hope you will understand that this process is necessary to ensure rigorous review of applications.

"As JRA racing has grown, upholding the integrity of horseracing has come to be seen as its most important task. The same applies to the 'owners' who play an extremely important role in horseracing. We are expected to rigorously screen their eligibility at the time of registration...As such, we hope you will understand that the system of ownership in Japanese horseracing has been applied with utmost stringency ever since it was first devised.

"You should therefore be aware that owners who are already active overseas are checked with the same rigour as those domiciled in Japan, and that, as a result of review, an application for registration may not be approved."

It is fair to ask whether certain applications for ownership here should also have been approved? For while there is an understandable and necessary push to increase the number of owners, there is also a need to pose more questions, demand more answers and raise the bar in relation to what is deemed acceptable.

Phoenix Thoroughbreds has spent many millions of pounds, euros and dollars on bloodstock since becoming a prominent force in 2017. The financing of those investments purportedly came from what Abdulaziz described as an equine investment fund, although the Racing Post last week revealed the Phoenix Luxembourg Fund was never regulated, at no point operated as a functioning investment fund and is now in liquidation. Yet even before that became public knowledge, alarm bells should have been ringing, given Abdulaziz never disclosed the names of those investing in his so-called fund, other than to refer to them as "non-racing people".

That was seemingly not enough to prevent Phoenix being registered in many major racing nations. Should those authorities not have wanted to know, in some detail, exactly from whom and from where the money was coming?

Responding to the Phoenix story, a BHA spokesperson said: "Wide-ranging criteria are in place for the suitability of those involved in the sport, and every application for registration as an owner is assessed in line with these criteria."

How, though, if you do not know the precise identity of the people behind an application – namely the people, in effect, paying for the horses – can you be confident that they meet the criteria?

With the Supreme Horse Racing scandal also fresh in the mind, the wider subject of racehorse ownership, and more precisely how governing bodies regulate ownership, is an increasingly hot topic.

As is so often the case in racing, it is possible to argue not enough questions get asked.

In general, racing suffers from a syndrome whose most obvious symptoms are the turning of blind eyes and looking the other way.

Specifically in relation to ownership, regulators need to be more probing about how an individual or organisation plans to pay for their involvement in racing, not least because sometimes the applicant could conceivably be a stooge for someone else. Crucially, suitability more regularly needs to be linked to morality. It sometimes only takes a little Googling of a person's name for doubts to surface. When they do surface, it should be wholly irrelevant if that person has links to prominent or influential existing owners.

Racing does indeed need new owners. It should, however, be made clear everywhere, not just in Japan, that everyone need not apply.
Report blackbarn December 2, 2019 3:10 PM GMT
Extracts from the RP.
Report truehoncho December 2, 2019 3:44 PM GMT
Thanks Blackbarn. In truth who cares about Japan? I bet there are loads of owners in GB that wouldn't qualify in Japan. It's lucky for lots of people who made money out of Phoenix that they were allowed to own horses. Mottershead forgets that the finances in Japan are far better than here and they can afford to have scrutiny and strict ownership rules. Here we need every penny we can get due to mismanagement of the sport, which doesn't get pointed out enough in the RP. Not many races in Japan where winners get less than £2k which would barely get you a years subscription to the RP.
Report ribero1 December 3, 2019 8:27 AM GMT
Phoenix underbidders for Sands of Mali who was bought back by cool silk. So presumably they still have funds and aren't going quietly?
Report TheAnorak December 3, 2019 12:47 PM GMT
Or maybe they were just bidding to push the price up, thereby collecting extra cash for their share.
Report truehoncho December 3, 2019 7:36 PM GMT
They would have agreed the price before hand. I wonder if he tried to settle up in OneCoin?
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