The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has imposed a 497.86 million dirhams ($135.5 million) fine on Arif Naqvi, the founder of the discredited private equity firm, Abraaj Group.

The financial regulatory agency of the Dubai International Financial Centre also imposed a fine of 4.22 million dirhams on Waqar Siddique, former managing partner, for "serious failings" related to the group's operations.

They are also prohibited and restricted from performing any function in or from the DIFC.

Naqvi and Siddique dispute the DFSA's findings and have referred the decision to the Financial Markets Tribunal (FMT), where the parties will present their respective cases, the regulator said in a statement on Thursday.

"The DFSA's decisions are therefore provisional and reflect the DFSA's belief as to what occurred and how it considers their conduct should be characterised," it said.

Abraaj, set up in 2002, was the Middle East's biggest private equity fund with stakes in health care, energy, and real estate. It was forced into liquidation in June 2020 after investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, investigated an alleged mismanagement of money in its healthcare fund.

In July last year, the DFSA imposed a $1.7 million fine on Ashish Bhrugu Dave, a former CFO of Abraaj for breaches of DIFC legislation and the DFSA's rules relating to Abraaj Investment Management Limited (AIML).

(Reporting by Brinda Darasha; editing by Seban Scaria)

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