LONDON, JAN 28 – British court on Thursday ordered to extradite Abraaj group founder Arif Naqvi to the US over charges of money laundering.
Westminster Judicial Magistrate announced the verdict on petition moved by the US seeking his custody. “The safety and rights will not be at risk in the US jails as contended by Naqvi’s lawyer during the extradition hearings,” the judge observed.
US prosecutors allege Arif Naqvi, a Pakistani businessman, is the architect of a plot to defraud investors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Naqvi s lawyers have said he could face 291 years in jail if convicted in the US.
Dubai-based Abraaj was the largest buyout fund in the Middle East and North Africa until its collapse in 2018, after investors raised concerns about the management of its $1 billion healthcare fund.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Naqvi and his firm raised money for the Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund, collecting more than $100 million over three years from US-based charitable organizations and other US investors.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Naqvi misappropriated money from the health fund and commingled the assets with corporate funds of Abraaj Investment Management and its parent company, and used it for purposes unrelated to the health fund.
Naqvi, in a statement released through a PR firm had pleaded innocent. Naqvi was arrested in the United Kingdom earlier this month, while managing partner Mustafa Abdel-Wadood was arrested at a New York hotel, Assistant US Attorney Andrea Griswold said at a hearing in Manhattan federal court on April 11.
Dubai’s financial services regulator said on Monday that it was in touch with the US Securities and Exchange Commission about the latest case involving collapsed private equity firm Abraaj.