June 13, 2019 / 4:36 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 2-Three more former Abraaj executives face U.S. fraud charges

(Adds efforts to reach defendants, denial from Naqvi and not guilty plea from Abdel-Wadood)

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK, June 13 (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Thursday unveiled criminal charges against three more former executives of collapsed Dubai private equity firm Abraaj Capital Ltd, accusing them of taking part in a massive international scheme to defraud investors.

Former managing partner Waqar Siddique, former Vice President Rafique Lakhani and former Chief Financial Officer Ashish Dave have all been charged with fraud and conspiracy, according to an indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court. Three other former Abraaj executives, including founder Arif Naqvi, were charged earlier this year.

It was not clear whether any of the newly named defendants had been arrested or retained lawyers, and none could immediately be reached for comment. James Margolin, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment.

Abraaj had been the largest buyout fund in the Middle East and North Africa until it collapsed in the middle of 2018 after investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, raised concerns about the management of its $1 billion healthcare fund.

U.S. prosecutors have said that from about 2014 until Abraaj’s collapse, Abraaj executives lied about the performance of Abraaj’s funds, inflating their value by more than $500 million.

Prosecutors have said “at least hundreds of millions” of investor funds were misappropriated, either to disguise liquidity shortfalls or for the personal benefit of executives.

Naqvi and former Abraaj managing partner Sev Vettivetpillai were arrested in the UK in April and have been freed on bail while U.S. authorities seek their extradition. Naqvi has denied the charges through a public relations firm. A lawyer for Vettivetpillai could not immediately be reached for comment.

Former managing partner Mustafa Abdel-Wadood was arrested in New York in April and also released on bail. He has pleaded not guilty. (Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Additional reporting by Kirstin Ridley Editing by Tom Brown and Phil Berlowitz)

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