By Lubna Hamdan
The case is the second of its kind against Naqvi to be heard in a court in the UAE
A Sharjah court on Sunday adjourned judgement regarding a $217 million (AED798m) bounced cheque case against Arif Naqvi, the founder of troubled Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj, until Tuesday, August 28.
The development comes after the parties involved, Naqvi and Sharjah-based Crescent Group founder Hamid Jafar, who is also a founding shareholder in Abraaj, agreed to an out of court settlement on July 15 over a previous bounced cheque worth $300 million.
Discussions are ongoing between the parties to reach a settlement. Sources close to the matter have told Arabian Business that all commercial terms have been settled and only technical details are left to be agreed upon.
The bounced cheque case is the second of its kind against Naqvi to be heard in a court in the UAE.
Naqvi, who is a Dubai resident but currently resides in London, faces an arrest warrant in the UAE where bounced cheques are considered a criminal offence. The Abraaj founder could face jail term if found guilty.
Zafer Oghli, partner at law firm Tamimi & Co, which represents Jafar, claimed last week that there is a “high possibility” it will request the public prosecutor to issue an international arrest order for Naqvi.
However, Naqvi’s lawyer, chairman of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, said an overseas arrest warrant is unlikely, as most European countries do not consider bounced cheques a criminal offence.
“It has to be noted that because issuing a bounced cheque is not a criminal offence in most jurisdictions, other countries do not take seriously an arrest warrant that is issued in the case of a bounced cheque,” said Al Mulla.
“Certainly, most European countries do not accept extradition based on convictions issued in cases involving bounced cheques as they consider and treat these as civil matters that do not warrant criminal convictions,” he added.
Abraaj, once the biggest private equity firm in MENA with $14 billion in assets under management, began a court-supervised restructuring in the Cayman Islands in June after it was accused of misusing investor capital, including that of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in a $1 billion healthcare fund.
Abraaj continues to deny any wrongdoing.
Investors last Friday announced the appointment of global consulting firm AlixPartners to oversee the separation of its fund management business from holding company Abraaj Group.
AlixPartners has been tasked with ensuring the long term success of the fund in delivering accessible, affordable and quality healthcare in developing countries.
In August, Cerberus Capital Management pulled out of bidding for Abraaj Group’s asset-management platform after its $25 million offer was rejected by investors of the private equity firm. The offer was the lowest among several bidders.