Extradition proceedings issued by the US Government in respect of Pakistani businessman and former Abraaj Group Chief Executive, Arif Naqvi, began this week at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Mr Naqvi is wanted by US prosecutors to stand trial on charges of fraud and money laundering.
It is alleged that as Chief Executive of Abraaj Group, Mr Naqvi and several other executives defrauded investors and misused hundreds of millions of dollars of the private equity firm’s fund between 2009 and 2018. Mr Naqvi denies any wrongdoing arguing that his conduct was permitted under investor agreements. Though the money win question was repaid with interest, investors nonetheless appointed consultancy firm Ankura to carry out and independent audit to trace the use of the money.
Mr Naqvi’s legal team asked the Court to reject the US extradition request on two grounds. First, it is argued that the UK is the appropriate forum for the proceedings as the majority of Abraaj Group’s operations were conducted in the UK. Under Section 83A of the Extradition Act 2003 a requested person’s extradition may be barred where a ‘substantial measure’ of the conduct alleged took place in the UK and extradition would not be in the interests of justice. It is further argued that Mr Naqvi’s extradition would be incompatible with his rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
In June 2019, a former managing partner of the firm, Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, pleaded guilty in New York, to charges of securities fraud, wire fraud and racketeering. Mr Abdel-Wadood also agreed to provide assistance to prosecutors under a plea deal.