Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

Abraaj executive to face trial in New York in November

Mustafa Abdel-Wadood's detention sparked other arrests over fallen private equity firm

Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, the former managing partner of the Abraaj Group, appeared before a New York court on Tuesday. The Abraaj Group
Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, the former managing partner of the Abraaj Group, appeared before a New York court on Tuesday. The Abraaj Group

Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, the former managing partner of the Abraaj Group, whose detention in the United States triggered other arrests over the collapsed private equity giant, will go on trial in November.

Mr Abdel-Wadood, wearing black prison fatigues and a metal ankle chain restraint, appeared before a New York court on Tuesday, seeking bail.

Along with two other directors who are in custody in Britain, he is alleged to have tried to hide the company’s parlous financial position while seeking to tie up $6 billion for a new venture.

Assistant US attorney Andrea Griswold said prosecutors were in discussion with Mr Abdel-Wadood's lawyers on whether satisfactory safeguards can be put in place to ensure he is not a flight risk.

He has pleaded not guilty to securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy charges. A decision is expected next Monday on whether he will be allowed to leave the southern New York jail where he has been detained since his arrest earlier this month.

“We hope to get a [bail] package that is reasonable, while being sufficiently tough,” Ms Griswold told Judge Lewis A Kaplan, noting that “additional factual allegations” may be put forward by Southern District of New York prosecutors by the end of May.

After setting a deadline of June 30 for discovery of evidence in the case, the judge set trial for November 4.

A bail agreement between the prosecution and the defence, which could involve an electronic tag as well as other security requirements, still requires the judge's approval. However if the conditions are contested a further hearing would be required.

Prosecutors estimated that the case will take two weeks while his lawyer, Paul Shechtman, told the judge he expected the proceedings to last three weeks.

“We are talking about millions of documents,” said Ms Griswold, adding that extradition proceedings for Ariq Naqvi and Sivendran Vettivetpillai, the Abraaj executives held in Britain, were ongoing.

Mr Naqvi, Abraaj's founder and former chief executive, appeared in a London court last week on US charges of allegedly misappropriating $230 million in fund money.

Mr Vettivetpillai, a former managing partner who left Abraaj last year to join the LGT Group, is similarly accused and was granted bail until June 12 on payment of £1m (Dh4.7m) with the proviso that he observes a nightly curfew at a private address. He is due back in court in London on Thursday.

Updated: April 24, 2019 03:11 PM

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