Abraaj founder Naqvi sentenced to prison in absentia by UAE court: Bloomberg

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Arif Naqvi, the founder of the now-defunct Abraaj private-equity firm, was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison by a court in the UAE for a case involving Air Arabia, a low-cost carrier, sources told Bloomberg.

Naqvi is currently awaiting a hearing in London over his potential extradition to the US and it is unclear at this time if he will serve the UAE sentence. This news comes a week after the Dubai Financial Services Authority announced a record $315 million combined fine on two Abraaj-affiliated companies for misleading investors.

Abraaj, which had claimed to manage almost $14 billion in funds, was the largest buyout fund in the Middle East and North Africa but filed for provisional liquidation in June 2018. The firm collapsed in 2019 following an investor row over money mismanagement in a one billion dollar healthcare fund. Investors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation had commissioned an audit on the healthcare fund, which increased scrutiny on the fund and attracted regulatory attention.

US prosecutors have proceeded to charged several senior Abraaj executives with criminal charges and accused them of a massive scheme to defraud investors.

An indictment filed last month by the US Southern District of New York accused Arif Naqvi, the founder Abraaj, of directing others in the company to conceal cash shortfalls and misappropriate cash from investors, concealing the true financial condition of the firm from investors and regulatory authorities.

Naqvi was released on a $19 million bail and must wear an electronic tag and stay at his London residence. He has continued to maintain his innocence and expects to be cleared of all charges, Bloomberg reports a spokesman as saying.

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