News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Abraaj CEO Arif Naqvi docked for $218m dud cheque

Arif Naqvi gave dud checks to an investor in UAE

A United Arab Emirates court postponed judgment until Tuesday in a case against Arif Naqvi, the founder of private equity firm Abraaj, and another executive for issuing a dud check, two lawyers close to the case said.

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

Dubai-based Abraaj, which has investment in Indorama Fertilizers in Nigeria, 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.

Zafer Oghli and Khalid al-Bannay, lawyers for Jafar, told reporters the session was postponed until Tuesday.

Naqvi’s lawyer Habib al-Mulla said the hearing had been adjourned and the parties were still in discussion to reach a settlement.

Neither Lakhani nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.

The punishment for issuing a bounced check under UAE law can be jail or a fine.

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

Founded in 2002 by Naqvi, a Pakistani financier, the Abraaj Group had nearly $14 billion of assets under management before being granted a court-supervised restructuring in July in the Cayman Islands, where it is registered, following allegations of the misuse of funds.

The Cayman Islands court appointed liquidators to oversee an “orderly restructuring” of the group amid suspicions that the investment giant could collapse.

Four key investors in a $1 billion healthcare fund managed by Abraaj, including Bill and Melinda Gates and a World Bank affiliate, have demanded an inquiry into allegations that money from the fund was used for other operations.

That in turn triggered investor demands for their funds back.

Abraaj had the funds to repay secured investors but could not repay unsecured investors.
The company had categorically denied any wrongdoing.