London: Arif Naqvi, the founder of Abraaj Group that was once the Middle East’s largest private equity fund, lost his bid to challenge the UK’s decision to extradite him to the US to face fraud and money laundering charges.
A London judge denied him permission to appeal a 2021 ruling that had said he should be sent to the US to face criminal charges. Naqvi requested for a review of the decision based on new evidence highlighting deteriorating prison conditions in the US.
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The prison he would be detained at has sufficient measures in place to manage Naqvi’s mental health and the conditions have not materially changed since his extradition was ordered, the Judge Jonathan Swift said Wednesday.
Naqvi is facing charges in the US for concealing a liquidity crisis at his firm, while siphoning off hundreds of millions of dollars for his family. He has consistently denied the charges. His lawyer said at an earlier hearing that he has an “unshakable conviction is that he is entirely innocent of these allegations.”
Despite the ruling, it’s unlikely Naqvi will be headed to the US anytime soon as he still has avenues of appeal left open to take.
Founded in 2002, Abraaj became one of the world’s most influential emerging-market investors but collapsed after investigations into alleged mismanagement of money in its health-care fund. By the time of its collapse in 2018, Abraaj owed creditors over $1 billion. He faces as many as 30 years in prison in the US.
A lawyer representing Naqvi didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.