Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 November 2019

Arif Naqvi-linked charity in UK to close

Aman Foundation UK had already shuttered its offices following the collapse of Abraaj

Arif Naqvi. Reuters
Arif Naqvi. Reuters

The British arm of a Pakistani charity set up by Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi will close next month as he fights extradition to the US to face fraud and money laundering charges over the collapse of the private equity giant.

The charity’s trustees have told regulators that they plan to dissolve Aman Foundation UK after winding down its operations.

The charity, headed by Mr Naqvi’s wife Fayeeza, closed the London offices it shared with the Dubai-based Abraaj last year after the fund collapsed with losses to individuals and organisations of more than $1 billion, according to court documents.

Mr Naqvi was arrested at Heathrow Airport in April at the request of the United States, which is seeking his extradition from the UK.

The businessman is on bail at his apartment in a gated luxury development in west London after lodging £15 million with a London court before an extradition hearing expected in February next year.

Mr Naqvi denies any wrongdoing and is contesting the US application.

Mr Naqvi is not a trustee of the UK charity and did not have involvement in its daily operations, according to sources close to the charity.

Its work primarily supported the work of a larger Pakistan-based charity founded by the businessman and his wife in 2008 to run education and health programmes.

The couple won a prize from French banking group BNP Paribas for their “individual philanthropy” in 2015 in connection with their work with Pakistan’s Aman Foundation.

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by the UK-based charity, which spent £2.3m in 2017/2018, according to its last filed accounts. The National reported in May that Mrs Naqvi wrote to fellow trustees just days before Mr Naqvi’s arrest seeking their agreement for the move to dissolve the UK-based charity.

US prosecutors have accused Mr Abraaj of shifting millions of dollars of investors’ money to shore up his collapsing private equity empire and for personal gain. Documents filed by US prosecutors in June claimed that the Pakistan-based Aman Foundation was a potential beneficiary for the “improper use” of $1m of money invested in Abraaj.

A spokeswoman for the UK’s Charity Commission said: “We engaged with the Aman Foundation [UK] in June 2019, in response to concerns raised at the time.

“In response, the charity provided sufficient assurances and confirmed they would be winding up. There was no further cause for our engagement with the charity at the time.”

The charity is set for closure on November 27, according to the regulator’s website after trustees gave three months’ notice.

A spokesman for Mr Naqvi declined to comment on the closure of the charity beyond an earlier statement in which he maintained his innocence and said that he “fully expects” to be cleared of all charges. Five other Abraaj executives are also accused of wrongdoing.

Updated: October 17, 2019 06:38 PM

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