Arif Naqvi, founder of Abraaj. Mr Naqvi faces a criminal complaint hearing in absentia in Sharjah on Thursday. Sarah Dea / The National
Arif Naqvi, founder of Abraaj. Mr Naqvi faces a criminal complaint hearing in absentia in Sharjah on Thursday. Sarah Dea / The National

Abraaj founder Naqvi faces UAE court ruling over bounced cheque


The National

A public prosecutor in the UAE has accepted a criminal complaint against Abraaj Group's founder Arif Naqvi for issuing a cheque without sufficient funds, in another blow to the embattled Dubai private equity firm.

A judge in Sharjah is scheduled on Thursday to rule on whether Mr Naqvi, who is in the UK but a Dubai resident, and his colleague Muhammad Lakhani issued the cheque without the necessary funds, according to a prosecution clerk and copies of court documents. The value of the claim is Dh177 million, the clerk said.

In an emailed statement to The National, a spokeswoman for Abraaj Group said: "Members of the media have inquired on a hearing and potential judgment to be issued in absentia on Thursday, 28 June, 2018 against Arif Naqvi.

"In relation to the media inquiries, Abraaj can confirm that a loan was granted and security provided in a pure commercial transaction. Partial repayment of the loan has been made and settlement discussions are ongoing with the intent to arrive at a satisfactory solution for all parties. It should be noted that the cheques were provided as part of a security package and as such should not have been submitted to a criminal court.

"Mr Naqvi is being represented in this matter by Habib Al Mulla, executive chairman, Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla," the spokeswoman added.

Abraaj said last week it agreed to sell a big chunk of its fund business to US investment management firm Colony Capital as a Cayman Islands court oversees the implementation of a restructuring plan for $1 billion in debts. The Grand Court of the Cayman Islands appointed Simon Conway of PwC Corporate Finance and Recovery (Cayman) and Michael Jervis and Mohammed Farzadi of PwC, as joint provisional liquidators.

"Abraaj is surprised by the excessive media interest which comes at a sensitive moment in its restructuring efforts and sale of the group’s regional fund business to Colony Capital," the spokeswoman said in the statement.

"We believe deliberate efforts are being taken to destabilise the positive developments that the group and its joint provisional liquidators have been working very hard to secure.

_______________

Read more:

Abraaj unit co-chiefs quit board of management investment business

Abraaj restructuring request approved by Cayman Islands court

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"Members of the media have also referred to the Auctus Fund. To Abraaj’s knowledge, Auctus is now the assignee of the said loan. In the view of our legal counsel, this raises questions of unjust enrichment and the overall basis and merits of the lawsuit," she said.

Auctus, a debt fund, now holds a $100m loan made to Abraaj by Hamid Jafar, founder of Sharjah's Crescent Group. Auctus has said it is unrelated to the Jafar family, the FT reported.

The hearing is a further twist in the unravelling of Abraaj, which says it has returned $6.5bn to investors over 16 years, but has been reeling for months over investor complaints that it mishandled their funds.

The bounced cheque was used as partial security for loans estimated at $300m made to Abraaj by Mr Jafar, a source told the Financial Times.

Mr Al Mulla, denied the allegations.

"The loan was given and the cheques were issued in a genuine commercial transaction and should be dealt with in a commercial manner," he told the FT. "Offers for payment and adequate securities were provided."
Mr Naqvi would not attend the hearing and had admitted that the cheque had not cleared, Mr Al Mulla said, according to the FT.

Mr Lakhani, a managing director at Abraaj, was not available for comment.

In the petition to wind up Abraaj in the Cayman Islands this month, the fund said two security cheques issued by Abraaj and dated February 28 were "dishonoured" on presentation on May 3, according to the FT.

Essam Tamimi, who is representing Mr Jafar, said in a statement to The National: "The issue is now a matter for the public prosecutor – the accused has signed cheques it is now clear he had no intention of honouring and is refusing to appear to face these criminal charges in the UAE ... The criminal complaint was submitted on behalf of the beneficiary of the bounced cheque in accordance with the relevant judicial procedures. The cheques were not a guarantee and were part of documentation which confirms the accused's liability to repay the debt on the due date of the cheques.

"As a matter of UAE Law cheques by definition are due on the date the cheque bears. I can also confirm there are no ongoing negotiations to resolve this matter.”

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

BACK TO ALEXANDRIA

Director: Tamer Ruggli

Starring: Nadine Labaki, Fanny Ardant

Rating: 3.5/5

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

The Afghan connection

The influx of talented young Afghan players to UAE cricket could have a big impact on the fortunes of both countries. Here are three Emirates-based players to watch out for.

Hassan Khan Eisakhil
Mohammed Nabi is still proving his worth at the top level but there is another reason he is raging against the idea of retirement. If the allrounder hangs on a little bit longer, he might be able to play in the same team as his son, Hassan Khan. The family live in Ajman and train in Sharjah.

Masood Gurbaz
The opening batter, who trains at Sharjah Cricket Academy, is another player who is a part of a famous family. His brother, Rahmanullah, was an IPL winner with Kolkata Knight Riders, and opens the batting with distinction for Afghanistan.

Omid Rahman
The fast bowler became a pioneer earlier this year when he became the first Afghan to represent the UAE. He showed great promise in doing so, too, playing a key role in the senior team’s qualification for the Asia Cup in Muscat recently.

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

The specs: 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Price, base / as tested: Dh101,140 / Dh113,800


Engine: Turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder


Power: 148hp @ 5,500rpm


Torque: 250Nm @ 2,000rpm


Transmission: Eight-speed CVT


Fuel consumption, combined: 7.0L / 100km

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

Forced Deportations

While the Lebanese government has deported a number of refugees back to Syria since 2011, the latest round is the first en-mass campaign of its kind, say the Access Center for Human Rights, a non-governmental organization which monitors the conditions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“In the past, the Lebanese General Security was responsible for the forced deportation operations of refugees, after forcing them to sign papers stating that they wished to return to Syria of their own free will. Now, the Lebanese army, specifically military intelligence, is responsible for the security operation,” said Mohammad Hasan, head of ACHR.
In just the first four months of 2023 the number of forced deportations is nearly double that of the entirety of 2022.

Since the beginning of 2023, ACHR has reported 407 forced deportations – 200 of which occurred in April alone.

In comparison, just 154 people were forcfully deported in 2022.

Violence

Instances of violence against Syrian refugees are not uncommon.

Just last month, security camera footage of men violently attacking and stabbing an employee at a mini-market went viral. The store’s employees had engaged in a verbal altercation with the men who had come to enforce an order to shutter shops, following the announcement of a municipal curfew for Syrian refugees.
“They thought they were Syrian,” said the mayor of the Nahr el Bared municipality, Charbel Bou Raad, of the attackers.
It later emerged the beaten employees were Lebanese. But the video was an exemplary instance of violence at a time when anti-Syrian rhetoric is particularly heated as Lebanese politicians call for the return of Syrian refugees to Syria.

Tips for avoiding trouble online
  • Do not post incorrect information and beware of fake news
  • Do not publish or repost racist or hate speech, yours or anyone else’s
  • Do not incite violence and be careful how to phrase what you want to say
  • Do not defame anyone. Have a difference of opinion with someone? Don’t attack them on social media
  • Do not forget your children and monitor their online activities
THE BIO:

Sabri Razouk, 74

Athlete and fitness trainer 

Married, father of six

Favourite exercise: Bench press

Must-eat weekly meal: Steak with beans, carrots, broccoli, crust and corn

Power drink: A glass of yoghurt

Role model: Any good man

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Anxiety and work stress major factors

Anxiety, work stress and social isolation are all factors in the recogised rise in mental health problems.

A study UAE Ministry of Health researchers published in the summer also cited struggles with weight and illnesses as major contributors.

Its authors analysed a dozen separate UAE studies between 2007 and 2017. Prevalence was often higher in university students, women and in people on low incomes.

One showed 28 per cent of female students at a Dubai university reported symptoms linked to depression. Another in Al Ain found 22.2 per cent of students had depressive symptoms - five times the global average.

It said the country has made strides to address mental health problems but said: “Our review highlights the overall prevalence of depressive symptoms and depression, which may long have been overlooked."

Prof Samir Al Adawi, of the department of behavioural medicine at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman, who was not involved in the study but is a recognised expert in the Gulf, said how mental health is discussed varies significantly between cultures and nationalities.

“The problem we have in the Gulf is the cross-cultural differences and how people articulate emotional distress," said Prof Al Adawi. 

“Someone will say that I have physical complaints rather than emotional complaints. This is the major problem with any discussion around depression."

Daniel Bardsley

Avatar (2009)

Director: James Cameron

Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver

Rating: 3/5

SPEC SHEET: SAMSUNG GALAXY S23 ULTRA

Display: 6.8" edge quad-HD+ dynamic Amoled 2X, Infinity-O, 3088 x 1440, 500ppi, HDR10+, 120Hz

Processor: 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 64-bit octa-core

Memory: 8/12GB RAM

Storage: 128/256/512GB/1TB (only 128GB has an 8GB RAM option)

Platform: Android 13

Main camera: quad 12MP ultra-wide f/2.2 + 200MP wide f/1.7 + 10MP telephoto f/4.9 + 10MP telephoto 2.4; 3x/10x optical zoom, Space Zoom up to 100x; auto HDR, expert RAW

Video: 8K@24/30fps, 4K@60fps, full-HD@60fps, HD@30fps, full-HD super slo-mo@960fps

Front camera: 12MP f/2.2

Battery: 5000mAh, fast wireless charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare

Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC

I/O: USB-C; built-in Galaxy S Pen

SIM: single nano / nano + eSIM / nano + nano + eSIM / nano + nano

Colours: cream, green, lavender, phantom black; online exclusives: graphite, lime, red, sky blue

Price: Dh4,949 for 256GB, Dh5,449 for 512GB, Dh6,449 for 1TB; 128GB unavailable in the UAE

Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

Iran's dirty tricks to dodge sanctions

There’s increased scrutiny on the tricks being used to keep commodities flowing to and from blacklisted countries. Here’s a description of how some work.

1 Going Dark

A common method to transport Iranian oil with stealth is to turn off the Automatic Identification System, an electronic device that pinpoints a ship’s location. Known as going dark, a vessel flicks the switch before berthing and typically reappears days later, masking the location of its load or discharge port.

2. Ship-to-Ship Transfers

A first vessel will take its clandestine cargo away from the country in question before transferring it to a waiting ship, all of this happening out of sight. The vessels will then sail in different directions. For about a third of Iranian exports, more than one tanker typically handles a load before it’s delivered to its final destination, analysts say.

3. Fake Destinations

Signaling the wrong destination to load or unload is another technique. Ships that intend to take cargo from Iran may indicate their loading ports in sanction-free places like Iraq. Ships can keep changing their destinations and end up not berthing at any of them.

4. Rebranded Barrels

Iranian barrels can also be rebranded as oil from a nation free from sanctions such as Iraq. The countries share fields along their border and the crude has similar characteristics. Oil from these deposits can be trucked out to another port and documents forged to hide Iran as the origin.

* Bloomberg

SPEC SHEET: APPLE M3 MACBOOK AIR (13")

Processor: Apple M3, 8-core CPU, up to 10-core CPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina, 2560 x 1664, 224ppi, 500 nits, True Tone, wide colour

Memory: 8/16/24GB

Storage: 256/512GB / 1/2TB

I/O: Thunderbolt 3/USB-4 (2), 3.5mm audio, Touch ID

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Battery: 52.6Wh lithium-polymer, up to 18 hours, MagSafe charging

Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD

Video: Support for Apple ProRes, HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10

Audio: 4-speaker system, wide stereo, support for Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking (with AirPods)

Colours: Midnight, silver, space grey, starlight

In the box: MacBook Air, 30W/35W dual-port/70w power adapter, USB-C-to-MagSafe cable, 2 Apple stickers

Price: From Dh4,599

Turning waste into fuel

Average amount of biofuel produced at DIC factory every month: Approximately 106,000 litres

Amount of biofuel produced from 1 litre of used cooking oil: 920ml (92%)

Time required for one full cycle of production from used cooking oil to biofuel: One day

Energy requirements for one cycle of production from 1,000 litres of used cooking oil:
▪ Electricity - 1.1904 units
▪ Water- 31 litres
▪ Diesel – 26.275 litres

The US Congress, explained

- US Congress is divided into two chambers: the House of Representatives and Senate

- 435 members make up the House, and 100 in the Senate

- A party needs control of 218 seats to have a majority in the House

- In the Senate, a party needs to hold 51 seats for control

- In the event of a 50-50 split, the vice president's party retains power in the Senate

ESSENTIALS

The flights

Emirates flies direct from Dubai to Rio de Janeiro from Dh7,000 return including taxes. Avianca fliles from Rio to Cusco via Lima from $399 (Dhxx) return including taxes.

The trip

From US$1,830 per deluxe cabin, twin share, for the one-night Spirit of the Water itinerary and US$4,630 per deluxe cabin for the Peruvian Highlands itinerary, inclusive of meals, and beverages. Surcharges apply for some excursions.

Padmaavat

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Starring: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Jim Sarbh

3.5/5


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