Venture Capitalist of Guwahati Origin Ordered to Pay $64 Million in Fines to his Former US Company
The world has truly become a small place, at least for Indian-American venture capitalist Iftikar ‘Ifty’ Ahmed, who is presently on the run from the US law.
Iftikar “Ifty” Ahmed is accused of embezzling funds from his own company Oak Investment Partners where he served as a general partner and has now been ordered to pay $64 million by a US federal judge. Iftikar originally hails from Guwahati.
Iftikar was born and brought up in Guwahati. He was a student of Don Bosco School, Panbazar, Guwahati and was brilliant in academics having stood 2nd in the matriculations of the Secondary Education Board of Assam and topping the state from Cotton College, Guwahati in the higher secondary examinations. He graduated from IIT Delhi and earned an MBA degree from Harvard. He started his career with the American multinational investment bank and financial services company, Goldman Sachs. Iftikar’s life was an “American Dream” story – from Harvard Business School to Goldman Sachs Group Inc and then becoming a partner at one of the oldest venture-capital firms in the US. It was a smooth ride until 2015, when things started going awry for this young investment banker.
According to various media reports, Iftikar came under suspicion initially in 2015 for alleged insider trading. His own company Oak Investments Partners started an investigation that unearthed the embezzlement scheme that led to Ifty facing criminal and civil charges. Ifty then fled the US on an invalid passport and was detained by the Indian immigration service due to his invalid passport and even served a jail term of two months. He was later released on a bond. Since then, the investment banker is said to be in hiding in various cities of India, mostly at his friends’ homes. Meanwhile his family (wife and three sons) remains in the US and assets worth around $118 million owned by the couple have been frozen by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
As per SEC reports, Ahmed allegedly presented Oak’s partners with investment opportunities in overseas businesses. He is accused of misrepresenting the terms of the deals, like the actual value of the company or exchange rates. He then transferred the difference to accounts and companies controlled by him and his wife. The SEC reported that Ahmed had made at least 10 such fraudulent deals.
Not only has Iftikar been asked by the judge to repay $42 million to Oak Investments, he is also to pay $21 million in penalties and a further $1.5 million in interest.
Leaving aside his professional life most of his old friends here in Guwahati speak well about him, especially his academic brilliance. He was known to be a great conversationalist and a fine debater and had brought laurels to his alma mater. “He was one of the sharpest brains I have ever come across. It was only natural to hear that he was placed very well in life as a venture-capitalist in the USA. But it came as a rude shock when we began to first hear of his insider-trading scam. Perhaps greed overtook him,” said one his close old friends who did not wish to be named.
Ifty had donated a library in his father’s name to Don Bosco Institute located in Kharguli hills. He donated over Rs 40 lakhs for the modern library now used by the students of the institute.
Back in Guwahati, Ahmed’s mother stays all alone in an apartment. She requested this reporter that she did not want to comment on anything and nodded when we asked about the library being donated.
During his heydays, Iftikar had flown down to Guwahati in a chartered jet and lived a lavish life like any top investment banker would. Interestingly, he had told during his interview to the Wall Street Journal that he had cancer and was operated once. His friends believe that it was the cancer that made him insecure and he took those steps that led to his downfall. As we write this story very little is known about his whereabouts.