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US Government Sanctions Boxing Adviser Daniel Kinahan

MTK Global CEO Bob Yalen Resigns

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US Government Sanctions Boxing Adviser Daniel Kinahan

US Government Sanctions Boxing Adviser Daniel Kinahan

Daniel Kinahan, who has made significant inroads into boxing in recent years, including as an adviser to several top fighters — heavyweight champion Tyson Fury among them — was sanctioned for criminal activity on Monday night by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for his role as the leader of the Kinahan Organized Crime Group, the government office announced.

Kinahan, 44, an Irish national based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was one of seven individuals and three companies that were sanctioned. He was identified by the U.S. government as the person who runs the day-to-day operations of the organization. Previously, Irish courts have named him as the leader of one of Europe’s most notorious drug cartels.

“Daniel Kinahan, who sources large quantities of cocaine from South America, plays an integral part in organizing the supply of drugs in Ireland, and is attempting to facilitate the importation of cocaine into the United Kingdom,” the U.S. government said in a statement. “Daniel Kinahan is known to have used false identity documents.”

During a news conference in Dublin, Ireland, Claire Cronin, the U.S. ambassador to Ireland, said the U.S. Department of Treasury is offering a $5 million reward for information that will lead to the “financial destruction” of the Kinahan crime group or the arrest and conviction of its leaders.

Also sanctioned were Christopher Kinahan Sr. and Christopher Kinahan Jr., Daniel Kinahan’s father and brother, respectively, and associates Sean McGovern, Ian Dixon, Bernard Clancy and John Morrissey. The companies sanctioned were Nero Drinks, U.K.-based alcoholic beverage company; Hoopoe Sports, a UAE-based sports management and advisory company; and Ducashew General Trading.

“The Kinahan Organized Crime Group smuggles deadly narcotics, including cocaine, to Europe, and is a threat to the entire licit economy through its role in international money laundering,” Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said in a statement.

“Criminal groups like the KOCG prey on the most vulnerable in society and bring drug-related crime and violence, including murder, to the countries in which they operate. Treasury is proud to have coordinated so closely with our international counterparts, and the U.S. government will continue to use every available resource to dismantle these criminal networks.”

According to the U.S. government, the KOCG, which it says operates in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Spain and the United Arab Emirates, was designated as a significant transnational criminal organization. The KOCG emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s as “the most powerful organized crime group operating in Ireland. Since then, Irish courts have concluded that the KOCG is a murderous organization involved in the international trafficking of drugs and firearms,” the U.S. government statement said.

“Criminal activities of the KOCG, including international money laundering, generate proceeds in the United Kingdom, which are then pooled together and passed to local criminals before being handed to Irish organized crime group members and laundered out of the United Kingdom. The KOCG also frequently uses Dubai as a facilitation hub for its illicit activities. Since February 2016, the KOCG has been involved in a gang war with another group in Ireland and Spain, resulting in numerous murders, including of two innocent bystanders.”

The sanctions mean that all property and interests in property of those sanctioned “that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC,” the statement said. “OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or persons within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.”

That means anyone in the U.S. found to be doing business with any of those who were sanctioned faces civil or criminal penalties.

The U.S. government announcement did not mention anything about Kinahan’s boxing dealings but in 2012 he co-founded the powerful management and promotional company MTK Global (originally called MGM) with former middleweight contender and friend Matthew Macklin, who sold his portion of the company in 2017 to Sandra Vaughan. A few years later, Vaughan said Kinahan was no longer involved in the company, which is now based in Dubai but promotes cards regularly in the U.K. Kinahan is also alleged to have involvement in upstart promoter Probellum, which has signed a slew of fighters in recent months.

In June 2020, Fury publicly thanked Kinahan for his role in helping make a deal for him to face then-unified titlist Anthony Joshua for the undisputed heavyweight title in a bout that ultimately did not come off, because Deontay Wilder won an arbitration case against Fury that forced him into their third fight last October.

“Big shout-out Dan, he got this done, literally over the line, two-fight deal, Tyson Fury versus Anthony Joshua next year,” Fur said at the time.

Boxers besides Fury that Kinahan has been involved with are Josh Taylor, Michael Conlan and Billy Joe Saunders, among others.

Kinahan remains a mainstay in boxing circles as he wields considerable influence behind the scenes. In Dubai, he mingled with those involved in a March card Probellum put on there and has also been seen in photos of him with boxing people they posted to social media during their visits with him.

Since 2000, award-winning reporter Dan Rafael has covered boxing full time and been ringside for thousands of fights, first for five years at USA Today and then for 15 years at ESPN, where he wrote and appeared on various television, radio and streaming programs. In 2013, Dan was honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America with the Nat Fleischer award for career excellence in boxing journalism. Dan brings his great insight to the Big Fight Weekend site, podcast and more!

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