UAE court sentences Abraaj CEO to three years in prison

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A United Arab Emirates court sentenced the founder of private equity firm Abraaj, Arif Naqvi, and another executive to three years in prison for issuing a cheque without sufficient funds, according to court documents and two court clerks on Tuesday.

But Naqvi’s lawyer Habib Al Mulla said in an email that the parties had reached a settlement.

The criminal case in the emirate of Sharjah relates to a cheque for 798.9 million dirhams ($218 million), signed by Naqvi and Rafique Lakhani, and written to Hamid Jafar, another founding shareholder in Abraaj.

The court also ruled that Naqvi and Lakhani will have to cover the legal fees, according to the court documents.

Telling Reuters a settlement had been reached, Habib Al Mulla said: “Under UAE Criminal Law charges based on bounced cheques gets extinguished once parties reach a settlement. Accordingly, the parties will apply to the court and the public prosecution to withdraw the cases.”

Jafar’s lawyers could not be immediately reached for a comment. Naqvi is outside the country and Lakhani could not be reached for a comment.

Dubai-based Abraaj has filed for provisional liquidation in the Cayman Islands after months of turmoil related to a row with investors over the use of their money in a $1 billion healthcare fund. Liquidators are also seeking to sell its investment management business.

Naqvi is the single biggest shareholder of Abraaj Holdings, which owns the firm’s investment management business.

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