Financial Markets Tribunal Upholds $135m Fine

25 January, 2023

The Financial Markets Tribunal (FMT) has upheld the decision of the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) to fine Mr Arif Naqvi, founder and former CEO of the Abraaj Group, a record USD 135,566,183 for his serious failings in respect of the Abraaj Group. Mr Naqvi was also prohibited and restricted from performing any function in or from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

The FMT agreed with the DFSA’s decision that Mr Naqvi was knowingly involved in misleading and deceiving investors over the misuse of their funds by a Cayman-registered Abraaj entity, AIML, as he had personally proposed, orchestrated, authorised and executed actions that directly or indirectly misled or deceived investors. Mr Naqvi was also knowingly and directly involved in AIML carrying out unauthorised Financial Service activities in or from the DIFC over a prolonged period of almost 11 years, through, among other things, his role as the head of the Abraaj Group’s Global Investment Committee and his actions in managing the Abraaj funds.

Overall, and as set out in the FMT’s decision, Mr Naqvi “was centrally involved in a sustained course of unauthorised Financial Service activities and misleading and deceptive conduct by AIML”. The fine is the largest ever issued to an individual by the DFSA.

Read more about the decision here.

Paul Stanley KC and Sophia Hurst acted for the DFSA in Mr Naqvi’s reference to the FMT, as well as a reference by former Abraaj COO Mr Waqar Siddique against his Decision Notice which was withdrawn before a final hearing.