Arif Naqvi, the founder and ex-chief executive officer of Abraaj group.
Arif Naqvi, the founder and ex-chief executive officer of Abraaj group faces facing extradition to the US on several counts of fraud and related money laundering. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A UK based academic and professor of human rights has written a book on UAE based private equity firm Abraaj Group and its founder Arif Naqvi.

The Pakistan-born businessman who is currently based in London is facing extradition to the US on 16 counts of fraud and related money laundering alleged to have been committed between 2014 and 2018.

The new book “The Life and Death of the Abraaj Group: Arif Naqvi, a key man or the fall guy”, by professor Brian Brivati, who is currently a visiting professor at the Kingston University explores the meteoric rise and equally spectacular fall of Abraaj Group and the international potential political intrigue that caused its ultimate downfall.

The book is published by the London-based Biteback Publishing is scheduled to be out for sale on July 20.

The Abraaj Group was just shy of $14 billion under management by 2017; they were on the threshold of closing a new fund that would invest $6 billion into these emerging markets.

Abraaj scandal in a nutshell
Abraaj, which was founded in 2002, was the Middle East’s biggest private equity fund and one of the world’s most influential emerging-market investors, with stakes in health care, clean energy, lending and real estate across Africa, Asia, Latin America and Turkey.
Abraaj managed more than 40 private equity funds and assets of more than $14 billion until it crumbled in the biggest failure for a private equity firm.
Problems began in February 2018 with allegations that money in Abraaj’s health fund had been misused. Naqvi and Abraaj denied wrongdoing and blamed unforeseen political and regulatory hurdles for a delay in deploying the money.
After Abraaj defaulted on loans, Kuwait’s Public Institution for Social Security and a fund linked to Sharjah-based Crescent Group’s Hamid Jafar moved to force the company into a court-supervised restructuring.
Abraaj Investment Management Ltd., which managed the private equity funds, and its parent, Abraaj Holdings Ltd, filed for provisional liquidation in the Cayman Islands, where they are registered.
In the liquidation process several irregularities including mismanagement and misappropriation of funds were discovere.
Dubai’s financial regulator fined Abraaj $315 million for deceiving investors and misappropriating their funds.

Abraaj was the largest buyout fund in the Middle East until it collapsed in the middle of 2018 after investors raised fears of mismanagement. Prosecutors in US allege that Naqvi was at the heart of a conspiracy to take money from funds and falsify financial records to hide the parlous position of his group of businesses.

The Abraaj saga began to unfold when investors – including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation –made allegations of commingling of funds and mishandling money in a $1 billion healthcare fund.

A new look at allegations

According to a press release issued by Biteback, one of the most successful investments of Abraaj had been in Karachi Electric, the sale of which had been agreed to a Chinese energy giant and a sizable chunk of that new fund was going to come from Chinese investors.

Allegations of fraud started unravelling in September 2017 when an anonymous email was sent to some of the investors regarding Abraaj’s dealings in Pakistan and an alleged bribery to obtain approval for the sale of Abraaj’s stake in Karachi Electric.

In his investigation based on extensive documentary research and dozens of interviews with the key players, Brian Brivati explores some of the key questions such as who benefited and who suffered from the slowing and stopping of the sale of Karachi Electric to the Chinese?; If Abraaj was an organised criminal conspiracy what exactly was stolen? Who benefited and suffered from the collapse of Abraaj? Who picked up the pieces of investments in the emerging and growth markets where Abraaj was dominant and who paid the price? How did the different actors in this story behave both inside Abraaj and from external agencies?

The new book by Brian Brivati is expected have a contrarian look at the Abraaj saga compared to another book on the subject ‘The Key Man’ by Wall Street Journalists Simon Clark and Will Louch.