Those who knew Fanan were aware that he had accumulated upwards of $20 million in debt, as an unfortunate result of his investing large sums of money in a “gray market” company for other Israeli sports figures. It is said that he had had people investing tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, in the promise that the investments would yield 1 to 1.5% a month in cash.
The reality of his debts, police, family and friends feel was what prompted him to take his own life.
Sharon Fanan, his wife, found his body in the shower at their home in Ramat Aviv. An ambulance arrived at the scene, but the paramedics were unable to resuscitate him. An article in Haaretz reports:
Dozens of players and fans of the Maccabi basketball dynasty arrived at the home over the following hours, including national team coach Zvi Sherf, and former star player Oded Katash.
While working for the Maccabbi Tel Aviv basketball franchise for almost 30 years, Fanan also worked for the You-Share finance and investment firm, a company that specializes in “gray market” check-cashing and loans. Apparently the firm was located outside of Israel and went bankrupt. While it was no secret that Fanan was involved with the company, he insisted that he had never cashed a check for a player or referee involved in Israeli basketball.
Haaretz reported in a recent article that:
the former manager habitually used money from other figures in Israeli basketball, including referees, coaches and players, and invested it in non-banking investment in exchange for high interest rates. Sources close to Fanan said it is possible that the bankruptcy of an investment firm outside Israel in which he had invested millions of shekels may have brought the legendary manager to take his own life.
One investor who lost tens of thousands with Fanan was quoted as saying:
“Dozens of people gave him tremendous amounts of money. He would promise to deliver the monthly yield in cash, and it would arrive in envelopes to some of the people. I have no idea where he would invest the money given to him, but over the years the money would come back like clockwork.”
The 63 year-old Fanan left behind a wife and two children. He became the manager of the ball club officially in 1992. After several times threatening to quit, he finally left his post last year. Since he left no suicide note, it was also suspected that perhaps he could not bear the separation from his players. The debts acquired as a result of the investment scheme seems more likely, though.
The Jerusalem Post reported:
Fanan’s funeral will take place on Tuesday afternoon at Qiryat Shaul Cemetery and will not be attended by any of the club’s current players and coaches, or even long-serving Maccabi chairman Shimon Mizrahi. Maccabi is currently in Los Angeles preparing for Tuesday night’s benefit game against the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. The club considered canceling the encounter, but after realizing that it is impossible to return to Israel in time for the funeral, the management decided to continue its US tour as scheduled.
Late breaking news out of London informs that the suicide of Fanan is being linked to a missing London stock broker named, Nicholas Levene. The London Times reported that “Fanan’s links to Levene had left him â‚¤12 million in debt to former players, basketball coaches and club managers.”
What exactly the relationship entailed has yet to be discovered.