UAE authorities issue arrest warrant against Abraaj founder

DUBAI, (Reuters) – Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have issued arrest warrants for the founder of private equity firm Abraaj and another executive for issuing a cheque without sufficient funds, according to a prosecution document seen by Reuters.

The warrants are the latest setback for the Middle East and Africa’s biggest private equity fund, which has been locked in a dispute with four investors over the use of their money in a $1 billion healthcare fund. Abraaj has denied misusing funds.

The row has shaken investor confidence in the Dubai-based firm, halted its fund raising activities and sparked debt repayment problems, forcing Abraaj to file for provisional liquidation in the Cayman Islands.

The public prosecutor’s office in Sharjah, an emirate in the UAE, issued the warrants against Arif Naqvi, who founded Abraaj in 2002, and fellow executive Rafique Lakhani, according to the document, which was dated June 18.

The warrants relate to a cheque for 177.1 million dirhams ($48 million), signed by Naqvi and Lakhani, and written to Hamid Jafar, another founding shareholder in Abraaj, according to a clerk in the prosecutor’s office who confirmed the validity of the document.

Neither Naqvi nor Lakhani responded to a Reuters request for comment. Jafar could not be reached for comment.

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