Former Commonwealth Cup winning training yard Phoenix Thoroughbreds has sensationally quit British racing in the wake of ongoing money laundering accusations.
The Dubai-based firm has entered their horses in 170 races on UK soil in the past three years alone, with eleven trainers working with their charges up and down the land. They are one of the most noted buyers at bloodstock sales around the globe, spending millions of dollars on their squad of horses.
They have enjoyed some notable successes too, with Frankie Dettori aboard Advertise when it won the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in 2019.
The organisation’s chief executive, Amer Abdulaziz Salman, said:
“It is with a heavy heart that Phoenix Thoroughbreds will no longer have our racing operations in the UK.
“Seeing our colours race at Ascot, Newmarket and further afield has been a dream come true for myself and everyone here at Phoenix Thoroughbreds, and we have invested large amounts into the industry in the UK helping to employ hundreds of staff both directly and indirectly.
“This has not been a decision we have taken lightly. However, for the growth and well-being of our business and our partners internationally, we have taken the decision to leave the UK for the foreseeable future.”
He did not, however, directly reference the allegations of money laundering levelled at the firm by a number of organisations, and affirmed that Phoenix will continue to train and race in other jurisdictions around the world.
Fake Coins and Money Laundering Claims
“Our ambition in horseracing is to be number one – and we will be. It’s a big ambition, but we always set targets and we go for it.”
Those were the bold words of Abdulaziz when Phoenix Thoroughbreds burst onto the scene in 2017, and while they perhaps haven’t had the success they might have expected they have still saddled Queen Mary and Commonwealth Cup winners. They have also partnered with the likes of Bob Baffert and Martyn Meade overseas too.
But allegations of wrongdoing have not been far away, with Abdulaziz himself appearing in court in New York over an alleged money laundering scheme involving OneCoin, which turned out to be a fake cryptocurrency.
And then the Racing Post exclusively revealed that the firm’s registered fund, which is set up in Luxembourg, was put into voluntary liquidation when the manager of the kitty walked away from the project.
Controversy tends to follow shady operations around, and Abdulaziz has never revealed the identity of the fund’s investors – leading many to suggest there may be nefarious activity going on. No individual or group has come forward to claim their involvement with the firm either.
A number of key figures with Phoenix Thoroughbreds have walked away from the fund too, including their head of equine Tom Ludt, since the allegations came to light. Baffert and Meade have also since cut their ties.
The only reference Phoenix have made to the money laundering accusations came in a statement in 2019, which read:
“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.”