Frankly Magazine: Ex-Abraaj partner Mustafa Abdel-Wadood seen holidaying in Mykonos following guilty plea

Ex-Abraaj partner Mustafa Abdel-Wadood seen holidaying in Mykonos following guilty plea

The former managing partner joined Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris in celebrating his son’s wedding in Cairo and Italy

Lubna Hamdan 3 Min Read

Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, the former Abraaj managing partner who pled guilty to wire fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy at the now-defunct Middle East private equity giant, was seen holidaying in Mykonos, London, Cairo and Italy this summer, sources familiar with the matter told Frankly.

Abdel-Wadood, who had struck a plea deal with US authorities in 2019 in exchange for a lighter sentence on the condition he would testify against Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi, joined Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris in celebrating the wedding of his son, Onsi Sawiris, which was held at the foot of the pyramids in Cairo around May.

The wedding was attended by celebrities, business personalities and politicians, including former British prime minister Tony Blair.

The wedding celebrations, which continued in Italy, were also attended by Abdel-Wadood, sources said.

The former managing partner had been arrested in 2019 in the Four Seasons Manhattan, according to sources. He was then briefly detained in the Metropolitan Correction Center, before being granted a $10 million bail bond, for which his former boss Sawiris was the sole guarantor, sources close to Abdel-Wadood said.

The two had worked together in Egypt in the 1990s, and it is understood that Abdel-Wadood was staying at Sawiris’ Manhattan apartment, which was included in the bond, while under house arrest, sources added.

Frankly understands Abdel-Wadood was in Mykonos around the same time as Sawiris, the executive chairman of Cairo-based Orascom Investment Holding, who Tweeted a picture of himself in July in the Greek island, known for its summer party atmosphere, and captioned it, “Zuma Mykonos must see”.

Abraaj was once one of the world’s top 20 private equity companies, managing $14 billion in assets at its peak, before collapsing into insolvency in 2018 after investors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation accused the company of misusing funds in a $1bn healthcare fund.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission said Abdel-Wadood, who pleaded guilty to all criminal charges brought by the US Department of Justice, said he had “undertaken to cooperate fully with the [US Securities and Exchange] Commission in any and all investigations, litigations, administrative or other proceedings” in the United States vs Arif Naqvi case, according to court papers.

He said in a prepared statement in court in 2019: “My commitment to Abraaj compromised the integrity of my judgement, and I ended up drifting from who I really am. For that, I am ashamed… I regret my involvement more deeply than anyone can imagine,” he added.

Former friends and colleagues of Abdel-Wadood’s, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was known for hosting fancy soirees at his Emirates Hills villa, which they said he has since sold.

Frankly was unable to reach neither Abdel-Wadood nor Sawiris for comment.

Former Abraaj CFO Sev Vettivetpillai also pleaded guilty to the charges as part of a separate plea bargain with US authorities in exchange for testifying against Naqvi. Frankly was unable to reach Vettivetpillai for comment.

Naqvi remains under house arrest in London, as he faces extradition to the US, where he would stand trial for 16 counts of fraud and money laundering. He denies wrongdoing.

The terms of his bail allow him two hours of outdoor time a day, though he is not allowed to leave his London apartment on weekends, sources close to Naqvi said.

In 2021, a UK judge delayed an extradition appeal by Naqvi over the risk he would kill himself, until a legal test on suicide is resolved in a separate case involving Indian diamond tycoon Nirav Modi.

Frankly was unable to reach Naqvi at the time this article was published.