Our Correspondent London
Abraaj group’s Sivendran Vettivetpillai has pleaded guilty to nine counts of criminal charges carrying a total of 115 years in jail and a fine of up to $11.5 million.
The Sri Lankan born British national Sivendran Vettivetpillai – who is commonly known as Sev Vettivetpillai – pleaded guilty to the serious charges before Judge Sarah Netburn at the US District Court in the Southern District of New York.
According to court papers lodged at the London High Court and the New York District Court, Sivendran Vettivetpillai pleaded guilty to serious financial crimes in order to get less jail years and fine through a bargain with the US authorities against Pakistani national former founder and chief executive of Abraaj, Mr Syed Arif Naqvi.
Pakistani national Arif Naqvi is the only Abraaj senior figure vociferously fighting all charges and maintaining his innocence.
Arif Naqvi has said that he didn’t commit any crime and his lawyers didn’t comment when approached about the guilty plea by other Abraaj exceutives.
Sivendran Vettivetpillai lives in Northwood, north west London, in a mansion worth over £3 million. Sivendran Vettivetpillai confirmed in writing before the court that “no threats or promises, or other improper inducements” were made to him to make him to consent.
His guilty plea papers says that he pleaded guilty “voluntarily” and was not forced. Court papers show that Sivendran Vettivetpillai’s criminal guilty plea has been accepted by the US Judge.
Lewis A. Kaplan, United States District Judge of the Southern District of New York allowed the guilty pleas of Sivendran Vettivetpillai to be taken “through videoconference or telephonic means” because of COVID and Sivendran Vettivetpillai’s “medical condition” meant “an in person proceeding cannot be held for the foreseeable future”.
The US indictment alleged that Sev Vettivetpillai and others caused “at least hundreds of millions” of investor funds to be misappropriated, either to disguise liquidity shortfalls or for their personal benefit.
Sivendran Vettivetpillai is a chartered financial analyst by profession earning a BEng in Civil Engineering from Imperial College in London.
the Sri Lankan born Sivendran Vettivetpillai is married to Menaka Ganeshalingam Vettivetpillai, daughter of Kanagasabai Ganeshalingam, the late Sri Lankan Tamil politician who served as Mayor of Colombo and Yamuna Ganeshalingam, who still works as a social activist in Colombo.
Sivendran Vettivetpillai joined Abraaj in 2012 after his investment firm Aureos Capital was acquired by Arif Naqvi.
At Abraaj, Sivendran Vettivetpillai focussed on impact investing, mainly within its healthcare fund until 2018 when he filed a lawsuit for $2.92m against Abraaj but nothing happened as the firm collapsed.
Sivendran Vettivetpillai then joined Liechtenstein’s LGT Impact Ventures as its Chief Executive but inexplicably left after only 10 months to “move on to other initiatives” but it’s understood that he was asked to leave the firm as the Abraaj news went live involving senior executives.
According to the UK’s Companies House data, Sivendran Vettivetpillai has been personally involved in numerous healthcare related businesses in the UK since 2015.
In spite of admitting guilt for conspiracy to commit several counts of fraud, Sev Vettivetpillai and his wife Menaka Ganeshalingam Vettivetpillai still have lots of UK companies owning substantial UK based property assets.
From records publicly available, it looks like the businesses are operated through a tangled spider’s web of holding companies, an offshore trust in the Channel Islands under the name of Menaka Ganeshalingham Vettivetpillai (MGV) and have loans registered between companies owned by the same family.