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Abraaj founder faces February extradition hearing on U.S. fraud charge

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Abraaj founder faces February extradition hearing on U.S. fraud charge
FILE PHOTO: Arif Naqvi, Founder and Group Chief Executive of Abraaj Group attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich   -   Copyright  Ruben Sprich(Reuters)
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By Kirstin Ridley

LONDON (Reuters) – The founder and a former managing director of collapsed Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj, who are wanted by U.S. prosecutors on fraud charges, face a four-day extradition hearing in February, a London court heard on Wednesday.

Arif Naqvi and Sev Vettivetpillai are among six people charged to date by U.S. prosecutors, who allege they took part in a vast international scheme to defraud investors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Project Associates, a public relations firm that represents Naqvi, reiterated on Wednesday that he denied any wrongdoing. Lawyers for Vettivetpillai could not immediately be reached for comment.

Abraaj was the largest buyout fund in the Middle East and North Africa until it collapsed in 2018 after investors raised concerns about the management of its $1 billion healthcare fund.

Emma Arbuthnot, the chief magistrate at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, ruled that the full extradition hearing should begin on Feb. 3 and ordered that Naqvi, a Pakistani national who was also Abraaj’s chief executive, and Vettivetpillai remain on conditional bail in the meantime.

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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