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SEC Charges Former Abraaj Managing Partner for Assisting Abraaj's Misappropriation of Private Fund Assets

March 2, 2022

File No.

March 1, 2022 - The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced settled fraud charges against London resident Sivendran Vettivetpillai for his actions in 2017 and 2018 that helped the now-defunct, Dubai-based private equity firm the Abraaj Group misappropriate client cash and mislead investors and potential investors about the firm's performance track record in the offer and sale of its newest fund. In July 2021, Vettivetpillai pled guilty to federal criminal charges in connection with this conduct.

According to the SEC's order, Vettivetpillai, as a principal executive of the Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund, agreed to delay using cash from that fund and its investors so that Abraaj could use it for its own benefit and the benefit of its investment adviser subsidiary, Abraaj Investment Management Limited ("AIML"). The order finds that Vettivetpillai also helped AIML conceal its misappropriation and desperate financial condition from Health Fund investors that were demanding information about the use and whereabouts of the fund's cash. According to the SEC's order, Vettivetpillai also helped AIML mislead investors and prospective investors in Abraaj's new $6 billion global emerging markets private pooled investment vehicle, called APEF VI, about Abraaj and AIML's dire financial condition and misuse of client assets, and about AIML's inflated performance track record. The SEC's order finds that Vettivetpillai was aware at least as early as late 2017 that significant write-downs to the valuation of certain portfolio companies included in AIML's track record were unavoidable, and that such write-downs would have adversely affected AIML's track record while Abraaj was soliciting investments for APEF VI, but that he advocated for AIML to delay the write-downs to avoid the negative impact the lower performance numbers would have on APEF VI fundraising.

The SEC's order finds that Vettivetpillai willfully aided and abetted and caused AIML's violations of the antifraud provisions of Sections 17(a)(1) and (3) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Sections 206(1), 206(2) and 206(4) of the Advisers Act and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder. Vettivetpillai agreed to a cease-and-desist order, to cooperate in the Commission's ongoing investigation and litigation relating to Abraaj, and to a collateral associational bar and investment company prohibition.

The SEC's investigation was conducted by David Neuman from the Asset Management Unit, and supervised by David Becker. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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