Liquidators seek Abraaj millions in Cayman Islands legal move

Court action follows claim that Arif Naqvi misappropriated $385 million from defunct private equity firm over nearly a decade

Arif Naqvi, chief executive officer of Abraaj Capital Ltd., pauses during a Bloomberg Television interview in London, U.K., on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. Brent crude fell to a 12-year low in London, briefly dipping below $28 a barrel, after the lifting of international sanctions on Iran paved the way for increased supply amid a global glut. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Arif Naqvi
Powered by automated translation

Liquidators are taking legal action in the Cayman Islands to recover more than $100 million (Dh367.3m) sent to the Abraaj Group’s healthcare fund just months before the private equity company went bankrupt.

The group paid $109m into the fund from December 2017 after the Gates Foundation, one of the investors, discovered that the healthcare vehicle was being mismanaged and had a large cash shortfall, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi, 59, who is currently fighting extradition to the US to face fraud and money laundering charges, agreed to top up the healthcare fund as part of an agreement with investors.

He borrowed money from the founder of a UAE investment company and sold shares to two unidentified investors, according to the newspaper.

The payments were said to have been made with the intention to defraud the company's creditors, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing court documents.

Mr Naqvi misappropriated $385m from the Abraaj Group from 2009 to 2018, liquidators claimed in US court papers last month.

Criminal investigators allege his personal illicit gains exceed $400m.

The court papers were part of liquidators’ efforts to obtain information from 18 banks to prepare for the legal action in the Cayman Islands to seek the “return of the fraudulently transferred funds”.

The group controlled more than $14 billion in 40 funds with 600 investors at its peak but went into liquidation in the Cayman Islands in June 2018.

Its investment management arm had debts of $1.28 billion.

The US has since charged Mr Naqvi and five other former Abraaj executives with criminal offences.

Mr Naqvi, who was granted bail of £15m (Dh69.2m) has denied any wrongdoing and is battling extradition from his gated apartment block in London. He also owns property in the British countryside

He was arrested in April 2019 at London’s Heathrow Airport after he returned from Pakistan.

His legal team say he faces up to 291 years in prison if found guilty of all charges that he faces in the US but lawyers for the US government disagree.

Investors included the Gates Foundation, set up by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife, and the investment arms of the World Bank and the French government.

The healthcare fund was taken over by private equity fund TPG in June 2019.

TPG declined to comment while the liquidators did not respond to a request for comment.