Arif Naqvi, the founder of buyout fund Abraaj Group, was granted conditional bail of 15 million pounds ($20 million) by a London judge on Wednesday, despite worries by prosecutors that he may flee to Pakistan rather than face US fraud charges.
Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled that Naqvi, 58, can’t have his travel documents, must wear an electronic tag and must stay in his London home. The decision overturns the judge’s own ruling from last week that denied him bail. The prosecution will appeal the decision, a spokesperson for Naqvi said on Thursday.
“Mr Naqvi maintains his innocence, and he fully expects to be cleared of any charges,” a statement from his representatives said. “For almost a year since the commencement of the provisional liquidations, he has been working tirelessly to maximize returns for Abraaj’s creditors.”
Naqvi is one of several Abraaj officials caught up in an American probe of what was the Middle East’s biggest private-equity fund. A judge in New York on Monday agreed to release Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, a former Abraaj managing partner, for home confinement on a $10 million bond.
Naqvi is charged with inflating the value of the Dubai-based firm’s holdings and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars. He denies inflating valuations and says the idea he took money out for his own personal benefit is “ludicrous,” his lawyer told the judge last week.
Abraaj collapsed last year in the world’s biggest private-equity insolvency. Founded in 2002, it grew to become 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.
Naqvi surrendered control in 2018. Abraaj, which managed almost $14 billion, was forced into liquidation in June after a group of investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, commissioned an audit to investigate the alleged mismanagement of money in its healthcare fund.