What started as a typical contract dispute between actor- rapper- business mogul Ice Cube and Qatari investors over failure to deliver agreed upon payments to Ice Cube’s professional 3-on-3 basketball league, BIG3 League, has been revealed to have deeper implications including an attempt to bribe senior White House officials including then Chief of Staff Steve Bannon.
The story begins in June 2017, shortly after the BIG3 League kicked off its first season, when three Qatari businessmen led by one Ahmed Al-Rumaihi aproached Ice Cube and co-CEO of the league and long-time business partner Jeff Kwatinetz about investing In BIG3. Al-Rumaihi and his partners reached an agreement with BIG3 to pay a total of $20.5 million — to which they only paid $7.5 million.
Cube and Kwatinetz are suing Al-Rumaihi and his partners both because of the failure to pay and because of what is described in the court filing as an attempt to undercut their leadership by alleging mismanagement and falsely accusing Kwatinetz of using racist language in a suit seeking $1.2 billion.
According to court documents filled by Kwatinetz the investors never showed any actual interest in the league, and their real target was to influence Steve Bannon and other prominent figures in Washington.
Before working with BIG3 Kwatinetz ran a management company called The Firm, whose CFO was Stephen K. Bannon.
Kwatinetz’s affidavit explains Al- Rumaihi’s focus: “There were numerous occasions during the 2017 season,” it reads, “where Mr. Al-Ruhmaihi would bring up Mr. Bannon’s name to me and comment about Mr. Bannon’s political positions… the Trump administration’s position toward Qatar, and he persistently inquired about wanting to meet with Mr. Bannon.”
Kwatinetz claims that he was “appalled” by the notion of receiving “a bribe of any kind” — and declined the offer without even telling Bannon about it.
He says that that Al-Rumahi “laughed and then stated to me that I shouldn’t be naive, that so many Washington politicians take our money.” The Qatari investor then allegedly stated, “Do you think [Michael] Flynn turned down our money?”
Cube and Kwatinetz are being represented by LA civil rights attorney Mark Geragos, who has represented numerous celebrities in the past — including Michael Jackson and Winona Ryder.
The $1.2 billion in damages that they are seeking are based on the BIG3’s projected revenue and player salaries. They initially filed their lawsuit last month alleging they were swindled out of millions of dollars by the Qataris, but it didn’t offer any details about Bannon or Flynn.