|09 August, 2019

UAE court sentences Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi

Development latest blow days after record $315mln fine slapped on two affiliates

Arif Naqvi, Founder and Group Chief Executive of Abraaj Group attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2017. Image for illustrative purposes.

Arif Naqvi, Founder and Group Chief Executive of Abraaj Group attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2017. Image for illustrative purposes.

REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

Arif Naqvi, the embattled founder of collapsed Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Group, was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison by a UAE court, a media outlet reported.

The penalty was handed down over a case involving Sharjah-based low-cost airline Air Arabia, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

Naqvi's legal representative declined to comment, while spokespersons for Air Arabia were unavailable as at writing.

The development is the latest blow to the Naqvi, who was once at the helm of the high-flying company. On July 31, the Dubai Financial Services Authority slapped a nearly $315 million on two of Abraaj's affiliates - $299.3 million on Abraaj Investment Management and $15.3 million on Abraaj Capital Limited - a record amount.

Abraaj Group entered liquidation a year ago after reports of its funds' misuse in February 2018, prompting investors to recover their money.

Naqvi was at the centre of it; he is accused of mismanagement of funds including a $1 billion healthcare fund, which had high-profile investors such as World Bank's International Finance Corporation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Prosecutors in the US have also indicted Naqvi and other senior executives of Abraaj for defrauding investors.

The Bloomberg report says it is unclear whether Naqvi will serve the sentence, given he's in London awaiting a hearing. He is practically under house arrest and is fighting off extradition to the United States for a New York case that has ensnared some of his former colleagues.

On May 3, a UK court granted him a conditional bail of $20 million, but he had to surrender his travel documents, wear an electronic tag and remain in his London home.

Further details are awaited.

 
 
 

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