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The Key Man

How the Global Elite Was Duped by a Capitalist Fairy Tale

Two Wall Street Journal reporters expose a man who Bill Gates and Western governments entrusted with hundreds of millions of dollars to make profits and end poverty who now stands accused of masterminding one of the biggest, most brazen frauds ever

Arif Naqvi was charismatic, inspiring and self-made. The founder of the Dubai-based private-equity firm Abraaj, he was the Key Man to the global elite searching for impact investments to make money and do good. He persuaded politicians he could help stabilize the Middle East after 9/11 by providing jobs and guided executives to opportunities in cities they struggled to find on the map. Bill Gates helped him start a billion-dollar fund to improve health care in poor countries, and the UN and Interpol appointed him to boards. Naqvi also won the support of President Obama's administration and the chief of a British government fund compared him to Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible.

The only problem? In 2019 Arif Naqvi was arrested on charges of fraud and racketeering at Heathrow airport. A British judge has approved his extradition to the US and he faces up to 291 years in jail if found guilty.

With a cast featuring famous billionaires and statesmen moving across Asia, Africa, Europe and America, The Key Man is the story of how the global elite was duped by a capitalist fairy tale. Clark and Louch's thrilling investigation exposes one of the world's most audacious scams and shines a light on the hypocrisy, corruption and greed at the heart of the global financial system and asks important questions about the relationship between business, politics and philanthropy.

Praise for The Key Man

An unbelievable true tale of greed, corruption and manipulation among the world's financial elite and how the World Bank, Bill Gates and the governments of the US, UK, France, and many more fell victim to the world's largest private equity Ponzi scheme

Harry Markopolos, the Bernie Madoff whistleblower

This splendid cautionary tale lays bare the vulnerabilities of the world of high finance, where even the grandees of Davos were marks for the kid from Karachi

John Helyar, coauthor of Barbarians at the Gate

Spellbinding. You won't want to put the book down

Eileen Applebaum, coauthor of Private Equity at Work

An emphatic indictment of the 'expert class' people who think agility with numbers is somehow equivalent to wisdom and morality

Duff McDonald, author of The Golden Passport

The rigour and colossal effort that went into this book transpires on each page. There is no dull moment. It is 300 pages of reading pleasure mixed with serious discomfort at what is being presented

Ludovic Phalippou, professor of Financial Economics at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

A highly readable reminder of how greed and gullibility so often go together, and why we need good investigative journalism to keep reminding us that if the pitch (and the person doing the pitch) look just too good to be true there is probably something fishy going on behind the scenes

Professor Sir David Omand, former director of GCHQ and author of How Spies Think

A rip-roaring account of one of the biggest frauds in corporate history

Owen Walker, award-winning FT journalist and author of Built on a Lie

A riveting account of the intertwining of brilliance and greed... Should be a mandatory read at all schools of journalism and business schools. It's a rare tour de force from which both can learn

Business Standard, India

A scorching epilogue... This is tough stuff and this is a tough book that should contribute to much greater scepticism about the bloated financial system

The Sunday Times

Clark and Louch have done an outstanding job in untangling the knots that usually keep the secretive world of private equity out of reach for most people

Pakistan's Dawn

It's a sorry tale, one that raises important questions about our ability to deliver 'ethical' capitalism

Chris Blackhurst, The National

Impeccably researched and sumptuous in its detail...It is a page-turner, built around a riveting portrait of the key man of the title. Mr. Naqvi who comes across as a teeming mass of contradictions

The Economist

This excellent book, which is more true crime than finance, describes in cinematic detail how Naqvi and his colleagues pumped up valuations, moved money between the company, its funds and their personal accounts, and lied about performance


Gripping... The account raises questions over whether 'impact investing' and 'stakeholder capitalism' are less about poverty alleviation for the world than guilt alleviation for the Davos elite


For an astonishing story of how the global economy can be manipulated, read the devastating account in The Key Man

David Ignatius, Washington Post

A pacy and deeply-reported tale

Financial Times

Business books are usually boring, but this one is well paced and cleverly organised. It also draws some devastating conclusions about our over-financialized economies; in particular the authors target the $4 trillion private-equity industry, which, if anybody has the courage to notice, should hereafter be subject to rigorous reform.

Brian Appleyard, The Sunday Times

In a scorching epilogue the authors draw all the right conclusions . . . This is tough stuff and this is a tough book that should contribute to much greater scepticism about the bloated financial system. But it probably won't. Money talks, or rather as Bob Dylan sang, it swears.

Kazim Alam, Dawn Newspaper, Pakistan

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