Abraaj Founder Arif Naqvi Loses Final Plea Against Extradition To US

Abraaj Founder Arif Naqvi Loses Final Plea Against Extradition To US
Arif Naqvi, the founder of the defunct private equity firm Abraaj Group, has failed in his final attempt to stop his extradition from London to the United States, where he will faces charges of fraud and may receive a sentence of nearly 300 years, Geo News reported.

Journalist Murtaza Ali Shah reported that during the hearing at the London High Court, a UK-based Pakistani national was denied permission to file a judicial review against the decision by the then-home secretary Priti Patel, who approved his extradition to the United States in 2021. The case was heard by London High Court Judge Jonathan Swift.

Edward Fitzgerald, Arif Naqvi's attorney, informed the London High Court on Tuesday that his client was most likely to be detained in a jail in New Jersey, where he might have to live in a dormitory with dangerous offenders.

According to new evidence presented to the court by Naqvi's attorneys, his life could be in danger and the prison where he could be detained is full of violent criminals.

Lawyer Fitzgerald claimed before the court that Arif Naqvi suffers from severe depression and that there is a real risk of suicide if he is extradited. He also provided medical evidence to back up his claims.

Fitzgerald continued to stress that Naqvi's mental health would be affected and that there was evidence of "gang intimidation" in the Essex County Correctional Prison in New Jersey, where he was most likely to be kept.

The legal team for Naqvi said that the 2021 decision did not adequately consider the jail circumstances in the US to which their ill client is likely to be exposed to.

However, attorneys for the US government claimed Arif Naqvi had received guarantees that, should he be extradited to the US, prosecutors would not object to him being granted bail before going on trial.

As per Lawyer Mark Summers a 'clear signal' that Naqvi will be given bail is the fact that the judge in Naqvi's case is US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who granted bail to FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried as well.

However, Naqvi’s lawyers expressed concern that the US authorities could change their minds if Arif Naqvi was extradited to the US.

Lawyer Summers argued that the Essex County Correctional Facility in New Jersey would be able to treat and care for Arif Naqvi appropriately.

According to Judge Swift's ruling on Wednesday, there has been no "substantial change" in jail circumstances since the 2021 decision approving Naqvi's extradition. The judge further stated that if Naqvi were detained in a US prison, his risk of suicide could be well monitored.

Following the court's decision on Wednesday, lawyer Summers informed the court that the US government had 28 days to put the required plans in place for "a safe and orderly handover" of Naqvi to the US.

After posting a £15 million security deposit, Naqvi is currently free on bail pending the extradition process. He resides in an apartment near Hyde Park with his family.

In 2019, US prosecutors filed charges against Naqvi in connection with the demise of Abraaj, a formerly successful emerging markets investment company that at its peak managed $14 billion for clients like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

According to 16 charges of suspected fraud and money laundering, Arif Naqvi was the main driver of a $250 million scam that artificially inflated the value of Abraaj's funds and diverted millions of dollars for his personal gain.

According to media reports, Abraaj Group founder Arif Naqvi was the major financier of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and donated massive funds to the party, especially when PTI contested the 2013 general elections.

At the time of his arrest, Arif Naqvi was asked by the police officers to give the contact numbers of his family or friends so they may be informed about his detention. One of the phone numbers provided by Naqvi was for PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan is facing cases of prohibited funding in Pakistan, but the matter has been pending for a long time. It is pertinent to mention here that Imran Khan could be declared disqualified if found guilty in a prohibited funding case.

Imran Khan's former wife, Reham Khan, tweeted in 2019 that US investigation officers probing Abraaj Group founder Arif Naqvi might be interested in knowing the facts that she saw with her own eyes.

Former PTI leader Fauzia Kasuri said in a tweet in 2022: "How can Imran Khan say that he is not aware of where the money was deposited? The money was being deposited in the party’s accounts, and its withdrawal was only possible through the signatures of Imran Khan."