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Abraaj founder sought to buy influence with Sharifs, says WSJ

Karachi: Arif Naqvi paid $20 million to a businessmen Naveed Malik for his assistance in securing cooperation of Sharif brothers in K-Electric sale. This is revealed by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Tuesday.

Govternment of Pakistan owns 24.6% shares in the Karachi-based power company. The article clearly states that Malik was tasked making cooperation with deposed Prime minister, Nawaz Sharif and Former chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif.This was done in exchange of $20 million by Naqvi to sell Arbaj’s stake in K-Electric.

WSJ claims that Omar Lodhi, partner in AL-Baraj in October 2015 told Naqvi that Malik assures that former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif was “willing to give a strong endorsement” of the K-Electric deal to Chinese bidders.

The email shows the Naqvi saying it is “important for him to share every detail with the brothers and get their blessings as well as their instructions as to how this money [$20 million] should be distributed,” such as “a portion to charity” or “a portion to the election fund kitty”.

AN article from WSJ reported on February that investors were interrogating that where is the money used that was destined to fund company’s healthcare. Naqvi set up health fund by acquring aid from Melinda & Bil gates foundations and other western organizations. Funds investment include Islamabad Diagnostic Centre in Pakistan and hospital chain Quality Care India.

Article says that Arbaj foundation used money for its own firm. whereas, he denies it. The article alleges that, “Abraaj has defaulted on more than $1 billion of debt.”

The firm also allegedly cooked its books when Gates Foundation asked Abraaj for bank statements of the accounts that held money for the healthcare fund. Following the request on Nov 30, 2017, Abraaj borrowed $140m from Air Arabia and transferred $29m from its own treasury in to the healthcare fund’s account on Dec 5, 2017. However, after providing investors with a letter from Commercial Bank of Dubai confirming the presence of funds [$170m] in healthcare account, the company repaid $140m to Air Arabia and transferred $10m into Abraaj Treasury on Dec 13, 2017.

During investigations conducted in 2018, the imbalance in the bank statement proved that it was inappropriate. The reversal of the fun  not only opened up  comapany’s character but also revealed Dubai’s regulatory environment.The previously trusted company Abraaj  has damaged its reputation after this incident.

In addition to this, article claims that Naqvi transferred more than $200m to his personal accounts, linked companies, his family and accomplice.

Naqvi denies the whole claim and refused to accept that he was the part of any conversation that involved a payment to anyone in political office to facilitate the sale of K-Electric. He said he called it “explosive” due to a reference to the potential sale of K-Electric, which was confidential at the time.

He also denied that no funds were transferred as said in the article and these accusations are  baseless.

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