The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), the financial regulatory agency of the Dubai International Financial Centre, has imposed a $1.7 million fine on Ashish Bhrugu Dave, a former CFO of the Abraaj Group.

DFSA has barred him from performing any function in connection with the provision of financial services in or from the DIFC.

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. Its founder, Arif Naqvi was arrested in UK and is out on bail and facing extradition to the US.

Dave, who was the Abraaj Group CFO was the finance officer and licensed director of Abraaj Capital Limited (ACLD), a DFSA authorised firm.

Earlier this month, DFSA took enforcement action against Dave for being involved in breaches of DIFC legislation and the DFSA’s rules by Abraaj Investment Management Limited (AIML), a Cayman entity not authorised by the DFSA. 

According to DFSA, Dave was knowingly involved in AIML misleading and deceiving investors over the use Abraaj funds. In particular, he was aware that approximately $200 million was taken from the Abraaj Growth Markets Healthcare Fund (AGHF) and used for the Abraaj Group’s working capital or other investment commitments.

Peter Smith, acting Chief Executive of the DFSA, said: “The wrong-doing by AIML and ACLD was of the highest order of seriousness. As the Group CFO, Mr Dave was in a unique position with visibility over the financial affairs of the group. He had the opportunity to expose and bring to a halt AIML and ACLD’s breaches.” “Instead, Mr Dave became actively involved in the deception of Abraaj stakeholders. Our actions against other former senior Abraaj staff members are on-going and in the final stages of the disciplinary process,” he added.

The fine imposed reflects the seriousness of the offences and is based on Dave’s earnings from the Abraaj Group, DFSA said.

(Writing by Brinda Darasha; editing by Seban Scaria)

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