By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Arif Naqvi's lawyers have argued that London was the hub of Abraaj Group's investor operations
Attorneys for Arif Naqvi, the embattled founder of collapsed private equity firm Abraaj Group, are arguing in court that the UK should refuse American requests to extradite him to the US to face fraud charges.
Naqvi is one of six people facing US charges that the firm defrauded a number of investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In court, Naqvi’s lawyers are arguing that London was the hub of Abraaj’s operations before its collapse in 2018, in addition to family ties to the city.
“If the group had a beating heart it was in Dubai, but its mind and control was wherever Arif was, which was often in London, which is where the main investor coverage operation was,” former Abraaj general counsel was quoted as saying in the defence’s skeleton argument.
At the moment, Naqvi is out on bail in the UK. The document indicates that his defence team believe that he may be incarcerated ahead of any trial in the United States, potentially at New York City’s Metropolitan Correctional Centre (MCC) or Metropolitan Detention Centre (MDC).
The defence believes conditions in these facilities would be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. If convicted, he faces more than 30 years in an American prison.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Former Abraaj Group senior executive Sev Vettivetpillai is cooperating with US authorities and has agreed to be extradited to the United States.
According to a skeleton argument from prosecutors, Vettivetpillai is "presently co-operating with US prosecutors".
"It is expected that in due course he will enter guilty pleas to the superseding indictment, and will give evidence against the defendant at trial," the document said.