Judge imposes spending limits on scandal-tainted IBF

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The Independent Online

The scandal-tainted IBF lost some of its independence and the US government moved closer to a takeover as a judge imposed spending restrictions on one of boxing's major governing bodies.

The scandal-tainted IBF lost some of its independence and the US government moved closer to a takeover as a judge imposed spending restrictions on one of boxing's major governing bodies.

Monday's action stems from a racketeering indictment and a government lawsuit brought against International Boxing Federation president Robert W Lee Sr, accusing him and others of taking $338,000 in bribes to rig the organization's ratings.

In imposing a temporary restraining order, US District Judge John W Bissell found that prosecutors would be likely to prove those charges at a trial.

The judge said he had reviewed some of the evidence, including transcripts of taped conversations. "I do conclude that the government ... has demonstrated a reasonable chance of success on the merits," Bissell said.

Bissell ordered the IBF not to pay more than $5,000 to any entity in any week without court permission, and formally barred its leaders from concealing funds or destroying records.

Bissell also set a 22 December hearing on whether to grant a request by federal prosecutors for an injunction that would remove Lee and install a monitor to rehabilitate the IBF.

If approved, it would be the first time a monitor was imposed on a US sports organization. Monitors have been installed a dozen times in the 20-year history of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, generally to cleanse mob-riddled labour unions. Zachary Carter, the former US attorney for Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, is the choice of prosecutors to become the IBF monitor.

"The government wants to do the right thing here. The government wants to preserve the IBF for the benefit of the fighters," Assistant US Attorney Joseph G Braunreuther told the judge.

Braunreuther said Lee is improperly trying to have the IBF pay his legal fees.

Lee attorney Gerald Krovatin accused prosecutors of "overreaching" in seeking the restraints and monitor, arguing there was no evidence the IBF was being looted since Lee's 3 November indictment, and asking what interest the government had in saving the IBF.

"If the IBF disappeared tomorrow, boxing would survive," Krovatin said.

The judge was not swayed, saying the organization's assets are at risk, and that it plays a "significant role" in interstate and foreign commerce.

Prosecutors also want Lee banned from boxing for life, but that issue would probably not be resolved until after a trial.

Lee founded the IBF in 1983 as a nonprofit entity, pledging to bring fairness to the rankings, which help determine a boxer's opponent and purse. The IBF gets a cut of purses for "sanctioning" fights - agreeing that the winner will be its champion in a given weight class, for example.

Prosecutors say it began taking corrupt payments almost from its inception. In both the criminal and civil cases, prosecutors assert that the IBF rankings have been "bastardized" in nearly all weight classes.

They have made much of a for-profit IBF entity incorporated three years later in Portland, Oregon, suggesting that Lee - majority stockholder in both corporations - used it to siphon money from the nonprofit side.

IBF lawyer Linda Torres said the for-profit entity is being shuttered and consolidated within the nonprofit company.

The indictment said seven promoters and managers were involved, as well as 23 boxers. They have not been charged, and the indictment refers to them only by number. The investigation is continuing.

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