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April 13, 2019

Arif Naqvi maintains innocence, denies wrongdoing


Sat, Apr 13, 2019

LONDON: Pakistani emerging markets business magnate and the Abraag Group founder Arif Naqvi has strongly maintained his innocence in relation to the US charges framed against him.

A statement issued by his spokesman here said that Arif Naqvi maintained his full innocence and had done nothing wrong.

"Mr Naqvi maintains his innocence, and he fully expects to be cleared of any charges. For almost a year since the commencement of the provisional liquidations, he has been working tirelessly to maximise returns for Abraaj's creditors," the statement issued on behalf of Naqvi said.

Scotland Yard detained Arif Naqvi at Heathrow airport on request of American authorities with “alleged fraud” on recommendations by the US Securities and Exchange Commission but made it clear that there is no case in the UK where he lives permanently. The arrest came after the founder of the collapsed Dubai-based private-equity firm The Abraaj Group was charged with fraud and conspiracy in New York in relation to the collapse of the equity firm he headed.

Meanwhile, Arif Naqvi defended himself in a rare interview published after his arrest but done few days before the latest development.

Speaking to The National, Naqvi said that he was confident the issues around the Abraaj liquidation will be resolved.

He said he was working with liquidators to “solve their issues” as they tried to assess if anything that had happened was “not normal”.

Mr Naqvi said that questions about the state of the company – which at its peak managed more than $14 billion in assets - were for provisional liquidators to answer.

“Generally speaking, people who know me and who are involved with the Abraaj estate are being very sensible.

“That’s why we appointed JPLs [joint provisional liquidators] for them to examine the estate and figure out if anything needs to be done, did anything happen that was not normal and - if so - what steps they should take.

“I’m working with JPLs to solve their issues.”

Arif Naqvi, who who was born in Karachi and studied at the London School of Economics, has close links with the UK. He set up the Aman Foundation UK, the British arm of a charity set up by the Naqvis in Pakistan in 2008 to deliver health and education programmes in Pakistan. His charity has spent tens of millions of Rupees on education and healthcare in Pakistani, operating out of Karachi where it runs a large network of ambulances to provide free medical care. Its understood that over 1 million people have been saved through the Aman Foundation’s ambulance service in Karachi.

Arif Naqvi has said that his Abraaj issues had not had an impact on the Aman Foundation in Pakistan.

Arid Naqvi said that the foundation had been getting sufficient donations from the community to continue its work “without a single hiccup”.

“Until today, one-and-a-half years on from the start of the Abraaj crisis, not a single patient has been refused, not a single ambulance has not served its need.

“But there’s no instability in the foundation. The Foundation has nothing to do with it [Abraaj].”

Arif Naqvi and his wife won a prize from French banking group BNP Paribas for their “individual philanthropy” and outstanding contribution for humanitarian causes in 2015. He was also awarded the prestigious Oslo Business for Peace award in 2013.

Arif Naqvi was on the board of the United Nations Global Compact and on the B Team which is a global team of world leaders including Richard Branson and Paul Polman, focused on implementing the UN sustainability goals in business.

The Abraaj Group has been a pivotal force in helping build regional EM businesses become global businesses, including Careem, where Abraaj was a pivotal force in helping grow Careem before its 3.1 billion dollar acquisition by Uber. Careem is founded by Pakistani entrepreneur, Mudassir Sheikha.