Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 July 2019

Date set for Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi's US extradition hearing

US prosecutors allege the company founder and other executives took part in a vast international scheme defrauding investors

Arif Naqvi, founder of Abraaj Group, is currently under house arrest in London. Reuters
Arif Naqvi, founder of Abraaj Group, is currently under house arrest in London. Reuters

Arif Naqvi, the founder of Abraaj Group, will face an extradition hearing in February next year, according to a London court ruling.

Mr Naqvi and five others have been charged by US prosecutors, who allege they took part in a vast international scheme, inflating the value of the Dubai company's holdings and defrauding a number of investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Abraaj founder has been accused of allegedly personally benefiting to the tune of millions of dollars.

He has denied any wrongdoing and said the accusation is "ludicrous".

Mr Naqvi was had been released from prison in May after being granted a record £15 million (Dh69.69m) bail.

Since his release, Mr Naqvi is subject to a 24-hour curfew at his family's flat in London while US authorities continue with their attempts to extradite him to face fraud charges.

Mr Naqvi lives close to Hyde Park, one of London’s most desirable locations renowned for its expensive properties.

His London home was valued at more than £1m a decade ago and the ownership is held by a company based in the British Virgin Islands, according to official documents.

Under the bail terms, Mr Naqvi surrendered his travel documents, has to wear an electronic tag and is confined to his London home.

Abraaj was the largest buyout fund in the Middle East and North Africa until it collapsed in 2018 after investors raised concerns about the management of its $1 billion healthcare fund.

Abraaj claimed to have managed almost $14bn in assets under management. Executives had planned to set up a $6bn fund, known as Fund Six, intended to plug shortfalls and help ease the liquidity crunch, according to charges.

Mr Naqvi is accused of standing at the helm of Abraaj’s criminal activities.

The National learnt in May that a British charity set up by the Abraaj foundation is set to cease operations after UK regulators said they would assess charges against Mr Naqvi.

US authorities say they have identified the Aman Foundation as a potential beneficiary for the “improper use” of $1m (Dh3.67m) of investors’ money, though the UK’s Charity Commission has found no financial wrongdoing so far.

It is understood that Mr Naqvi had no involvement in the running of the UK charity and is not listed as a trustee.

Updated: June 27, 2019 05:21 PM

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