Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi loses challenge to US extradition on fraud charges

A London judge denied Naqvi's appeal, which was based on deteriorating American prison conditions

Arif Naqvi had appealed the decision to extradite him to the US on new evidence of deteriorating prison conditions in the US. Bloomberg
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Arif Naqvi, the founder of what was once the largest private equity fund in the Middle East, Abraaj Group, has lost his appeal to challenge his extradition from the UK to the US to face criminal charges of fraud and money laundering.

Mr Naqvi had requested a review of the decision based on new evidence of deteriorating prison conditions in the US, but the judge denied him permission to appeal against a 2021 ruling that stated he should be sent to the US to face criminal charges.

The Pakistan-born businessman is facing charges in the US over concealing a liquidity crisis at his firm and siphoning off hundreds of millions of dollars for his family.

Despite consistently denying the charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison in the US.

In response to the recent ruling, Mr Naqvi’s lawyer did not immediately provide a comment.

Mr Naqvi founded Abraaj in 2002, and it quickly became one of the most influential emerging-market investors in the world.

The collapse of Abraaj in 2018 following investigations into alleged mismanagement of money in its healthcare fund left creditors with more than $1 billion owed.

Mr Naqvi’s extradition is unlikely to occur anytime soon as he still has open avenues of appeal. Nevertheless, the decision is a significant setback for him.

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

US prosecutors have alleged that Mr Naqvi is the mastermind behind a plot to defraud investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

His lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, had argued in court that Mr Naqvi was likely to be held in a New Jersey prison, where he may have to share a dormitory with violent criminals. mr Naqvi suffers from severe depression, he said, adding that there was a “real risk” of suicide if he was extradited.

The US government's lawyer, Mark Summers, stated that Mr Naqvi has been given assurances that the judge in his case was US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who previously granted bail to FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, indicating that Mr Naqvi could also be granted bail.

Updated: March 09, 2023, 9:58 AM