Dubai regulator fines former Abraaj COO $1.15 million

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Dubai's financial regulator has fined Waqar Siddique, former chief operating officer of collapsed private equity firm Abraaj Group, $1.15 million for “knowing involvement” in the firm's misconduct, it said on Wednesday.

Dubai-based 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.

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The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) said Siddique was also “prohibited and restricted from performing any function in or from the DIFC”, Dubai's financial centre.

The regulator said Siddique was “knowingly involved in certain Abraaj Investment Management Limited (AIML) and Abraaj Capital Limited (ACLD) breaches”.

Reuters could not immediately reach Siddique for comment.

The breaches included being “knowingly involved in AIML misleading and deceiving investors over the use of their monies within funds managed by Abraaj, including by being a signatory to loan agreements used to produce misleading bank balance confirmations and misleading financial statements”, the DFSA said.

It said Siddique on Oct. 14 withdrew a referral he had made for the Financial Markets Tribunal (FMT), an independent appeal body, to review the DFSA's findings. It said it reached a settlement with Siddique including “arrangements to secure payment to the DFSA”.

Earlier this month, the DFSA provisionally fined KPMG and its former audit principal $2 million over failings in the audit of Abraaj.

“It continues to be a priority of the DFSA to hold senior individuals to account. As with the former Abraaj CFO, Mr Ashish Dave, we have pursued payment of the fine even though the individual (Siddique) and his assets are no longer in the UAE,” DFSA Chief Executive Ian Johnston said in the statement.

DFSA fined Dave $1.7 million in July last year, citing his involvement in deception, unauthorized activity and compliance breaches.

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