Abraaj founder given more time to raise £15m pound bail

Arif Naqvi, the founder of Abraaj Capital, has been given more time to raise £15 million in bail by a London court. (Reuters)
Updated 10 May 2019

Abraaj founder given more time to raise £15m pound bail

  • Arif Naqvi was arrested in Britain last month and has been awaiting possible extradition to the United States where he faces charges of defrauding investors
  • Dubai-based Abraaj had been the largest buyout fund in the Middle East and North Africa until it fell apart last year after a dispute with investors

LONDON: The Pakistani founder of Abraaj Group, once one of the largest emerging markets private equity investors, has been given more time to raise a £15 million ($19.5 million) bail by a London court, a court official said on Friday.
Arif Naqvi was arrested in Britain last month and has been awaiting possible extradition to the United States where he faces charges of defrauding investors.
Naqvi was remanded in custody after the bail hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court on Friday was adjourned until May 17 because he failed to pay the bail conditions, the official said.
On May 3, Westminster Magistrates Court granted Naqvi bail on condition that he pay £15 million and an additional surety of £650,000, as well as surrendering his Pakistani passport, remaining under 24-hour curfew at an address given to the court and wearing an electronic tag, a prosecution spokesman said at the time.
Dubai-based Abraaj had been the largest buyout fund in the Middle East and North Africa until it fell apart last year after a dispute with investors.
Naqvi has previously maintained his innocence. Under the U.S. charges, Naqvi is accused of inflating positions held by Abraaj in order to attract greater funds from them, causing them financial loss.


India probes Flipkart, Amazon discounts after retailers complain

Updated 15 October 2019

India probes Flipkart, Amazon discounts after retailers complain

  • Products on Amazon, Flipkart listed at steep discounts in sale
  • Trader groups allege firms violating foreign investment rules

NEW DELHI: The Indian government is looking into whether hefty discounts offered on Walmart-owned Flipkart and Amazon.com during their online festive sales violate foreign investment rules, a commerce ministry official told Reuters.
India introduced new rules in February aimed at protecting the 130 million people dependent on small-scale retail by deterring big online discounts. The rules forced e-commerce firms to tweak their business structures and drew criticism from the United States, straining trade ties between New Delhi and Washington.
While Amazon and Flipkart say they’ve complied with the federal rules, local trader groups say the two companies are violating them by burning money to offer discounts — of more than 50 percent in some cases — during the ongoing festive sales.
Reuters reviewed emails and internal training material from Flipkart showing the company is in some cases offering to reduce, or forfeit, its sales commission from sellers that offer discounts.
The commerce ministry official said the government was reviewing complaints and evidence filed by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), a group representing some 70 million brick-and-mortar retailers, alleging Amazon and Flipkart were violating the foreign investment rules.
The official declined to comment on possible action, but executives from Amazon and Flipkart were summoned to meet commerce ministry officials last week to discuss the matter.
Flipkart in a statement said it had a “good meeting” with government officials and it was “deeply committed to doing business the right way in India.”
Amazon said it had an “open & transparent discussion” with officials and has a high bar for compliance.
Seeking to attract shoppers around the key Hindu festival of Diwali, both retailers have placed full-page advertisements in top national daily the Times of India to showcase discount offerings stretching from Samsung and Apple phones to clothing and diapers.
“Customers are going online because of the unbelievable discounts. Because of this sales at offline businesses are down 30 percent to 40 percent this month,” CAIT’s secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said.
Two emails received by Flipkart sellers in September, just days ahead of the inaugural phase of the festive sales, showed it offering to partly fund discounts.
The company would “burn” 3 percent of the discount if a seller lowered a product price by 15 percent, or 9 percent if the seller discounted by 30 percent, said one of the emails.
In training material posted on Flipkart’s restricted website for its sellers, seen by Reuters, the company asks them to prepare for the festive season by saying “nothing is bigger than this” and explaining how they can benefit by discounting products for Flipkart’s premium customers.
“We want to ensure that you fetch as much profit from it as possible ... whatever the discount you are offering, half of that will be reimbursed to you by Flipkart,” a post said.
A Flipkart source said the incentives were compliant with Indian regulations and were aimed at promoting sellers’ earnings by effectively reducing the commission they pay.
All India Online Vendors Association, whose 3,500 members sell products on various online platforms including Flipkart, in a statement said fewer than 100 of its members benefitted from Flipkart’s partial discount funding, giving some sellers an unfair advantage.