Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi stripped of prestigious ‘Nobel for business’ award

Committee says a review concluded he was no longer a 'role model' after the collapse of company

Arif Naqvi, founder of the Abraaj Group, faces charges in the US of financial wrongdoing related to his company. Bloomberg
Arif Naqvi, founder of the Abraaj Group, faces charges in the US of financial wrongdoing related to his company. Bloomberg

Embattled Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi has been stripped of a prestigious award dubbed the Nobel prize for business because he no longer meets its “role model” criteria.

Mr Naqvi was one of five people given the Oslo Business for Peace award in 2013, but it was revoked following the collapse of his private equity empire and arrest for alleged fraud and money laundering.

The businessman, whose private equity empire collapsed in 2018 amid accusations of the misuse of investor money in its healthcare fund, is currently in London fighting extradition to the US where he potentially faces decades in jail if found guilty.

His photo and citation have been removed from a list of previous award winners – including Indian industrialist Ratan Tata, Elon Musk and British entrepreneur Richard Branson – and replaced with a footnote.

“Business for Peace Honourees are awarded for both their past and future endeavours, including being a role model to society and their peers,” it said. “The Award Committee found that Mr Naqvi no longer met the role model criteria of the Award.”

The previous citation for Mr Naqvi, 60, had said that “his work in promoting responsible business practices is pioneering in the private equity industry”.

It is believed to be the first time that an honour has been rescinded in the prize’s 11-year history.

The revocation followed a review by an independent commission, said the organisation. It was not immediately clear who sat on the committee or whether Mr Naqvi was consulted.

Mr Naqvi has denied wrongdoing over the collapse of Abraaj, which before its demise claimed to control almost $14 billion (Dh51.4bn) of assets in funds focused on emerging markets.

He has challenged moves by US prosecutors to take him to the US, citing his declining health, US prison conditions, and claiming it was a case that could be heard before UK courts.

But a judge earlier this year agreed to his extradition and it was signed off by the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Mr Naqvi – who is under effective house arrest at his London flat subject to a £15 million ($20.8m) bail – has appealed the ruling, setting the stage for months of more legal wrangling.

Updated: May 8, 2021 06:07 AM

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