Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 July 2019

Billionaire Sawiris said to have helped Abraaj executive Abdel-Wadood post bail

Egyptian reportedly one of the guarantors for $10 million bond posted in New York amid fraud charges against former executives of failed Dubai private equity firm

Orascom Investment Holding's Naguib Sawiris and Mr Abdel-Wadood are said to have became acquainted when they worked together in their native Egypt decades ago. Reuters
Orascom Investment Holding's Naguib Sawiris and Mr Abdel-Wadood are said to have became acquainted when they worked together in their native Egypt decades ago. Reuters

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris is one of the guarantors for the $10 million bail bond posted by former Abraaj Group executive Mustafa Abdel-Wadood in federal court in New York, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Together with the private equity firm's founder Arif Naqvi, Mr Abdel-Wadood - as well as Sev Vettivetpillai, also a former managing partner - is accused by US prosecutors of inflating Abraaj's fund positions to US investors to attract more capital.

Mr Abdel-Wadood's detention in New York last month triggered other arrests over the collapsed company.

Former Abraaj executive Mustafa Abdel-Wadood. He is to go on trial on November 4 and will be confined to a Manhattan apartment, thought to be one of the residences used to cover the bail requirements. Christopher Pike / The National
Former Abraaj executive Mustafa Abdel-Wadood. Photo: Christopher Pike / The National

Mr Sawiris is executive chairman of Cairo-based Orascom Investment Holding.

According to the paper, Mr Abdel-Wadood became acquainted with Mr Sawiris when they worked together in their native Egypt decades ago.

Mr Sawiris is the former chief executive of Orascom Telecom and the Sawiris family-owned Orascom conglomerate spans construction, tourism and manufacturing.

Mr Abdel‐Wadood joined Abraaj Group from Egyptian investment banks EFG‐Hermes, where he was chief executive for the UAE and prior to that, head of investment banking. Before this, he co‐founded Sigma Capital and had spent eight years at the Orascom Group. He was also a founding board member of Orascom Telecom.

Mr Sawiris said through a spokeswoman that he provided real estate to help secure Mr Abdel-Wadood’s bail. He didn’t give details about the property.

“He is a longtime friend of mine and worked with me in the nineties,” Mr Sawiris said.

He was one of four bail guarantors for Mr Abdel-Wadood, the Journal said. The bond included an apartment in New York and a home on Long Island, owned by two of the cosigners.

Mr Abdel-Wadood will go on trial on November 4 and will be confined to a Manhattan apartment, thought to be one of the homes used to cover the bail requirements.

Listen: Business Extra podcast: The dramatic fall of Abraaj

Mr Naqvi, 58, remains in jail after winning bail because of failing to pay a £15 million (Dh72mn) security bond.

He was granted bail a week ago, while he fights extradition to the US over the fraud charges, on condition he pays £15m to a UK court.

But on Tuesday, Westminster Magistrates' Court told The National that Mr Naqvi has not paid the funds yet and remains in custody.

The bail bond is believed to be the largest of its kind ever ordered by a British court.

Founded in 2002, Abraaj grew to become one of the world’s most influential emerging-market investors, with stakes in health care, clean energy, lending and real estate across Africa, Asia, Latin America and Turkey.

Abraaj, which managed almost $14 billion in funds, was forced into liquidation last June after a group of investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, commissioned an audit to investigate the alleged mismanagement of money in its health-care fund.

Mr Abdel‐Wadood has served on the boards of several publicly listed and private companies and in 2002, the World Economic Forum named him a ‘Global Leader for Tomorrow’, having already, in 2007, named him a ‘Young Global Leader’. He is also a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization. He graduated in Business Administration from American University and holds an MBA from Georgetown University.

Updated: May 10, 2019 12:04 PM

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