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Dubai's Abraaj 'surprised by media interest' after Naqvi jail threat

Dubai's Abraaj 'surprised by media interest' after Naqvi jail threat

Abraaj Group said on Tuesday that it suspects "deliberate efforts" are being taken to destabilise the company at a sensitive moment in its restructuring efforts.

The company, which has filed for provisional liquidation and is using courts in the Cayman Islands to implement a restructuring plan for its estimated $1 billion in debts, said it is "surprised by the excessive media interest" after latest reports that Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi faces a criminal complaint in the UAE for issuing a cheque without sufficient funds.

"We believe deliberate efforts are being taken to destabilise the positive developments that the Group and its Joint Provisional Liquidators have been working very hard to secure," the company said in a statement.

It added: "In relation to the media inquiries, Abraaj can confirm that a loan was granted and security provided in a pure commercial transaction. Partial repayment of the loan has been made and settlement discussions are ongoing with the intent to arrive at a satisfactory solution for all parties.

"It should be noted that the cheques were provided as part of a security package and as such should not have been submitted to a criminal court."

Naqvi is being represented in this matter by Dr Habib Al Mulla, executive chairman, Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, the statement said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Financial Times was quoted as saying a Sharjah court is slated to determine whether Naqvi and a colleague, Muhammed Rafique Lakhani, issued the cheque without enough funds in the account.

Quoting a prosecution clerk, the Financial Times said that the value of the claim is AED177 million ($48.2 million).

Bounced cheques for amounts in excess of AED200,000 remain a criminal offence in the UAE and a conviction could mean a possible jail sentence for Naqvi.

Earlier in June, Abraaj filed for provisional liquidation and is using courts in the Cayman Islands to implement a restructuring plan for its estimated $1 billion in debts.

On Monday, it was announced that two co-chief executives of Abraaj Investment Management are stepping down from the company’s board as it begins the liquidation process and a partial sale of its fund management business to the New York-listed Colony Capital.

Source: Arabian Business

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