The Abraaj Group, once the largest PE firm in the Middle East with $13 billion in assets under management, collapsed in 2018 after extensive fraudulent practices were unearthed by investors and regulators. Following that discovery and a wide-ranging investigation, the Dubai Financial Services Authority issued a $315‑million fine to the Abraaj Group on July 29, 2019. A year after that penalty – the largest ever imposed in the United Arab Emirates – the Abraaj scandal continues to cast a pall over PE in the region, and outside investors remain skeptical of local fund managers and M&A opportunities. To understand the lingering fallout of the Abraaj Group’s downfall, the Private Equity Law Report interviewed various attorneys, investors, managers and investors operating in the Middle East. This first article in a two-part series details the reactions of regulators and LPs in the Middle East, and it provides an update on the criminal and enforcement actions taken against the Abraaj Group and certain of its key executives. The second article
will outline steps GPs in the region have taken to adapt to a tougher fundraising environment and uncertain future. For a detailed rundown of the Abraaj cases, see “The Collapse of Abraaj: Resolved and Pending Cases in the U.S. and Dubai Against the Former PE Giant
” (Oct. 22, 2019).