Dubai’s GFH Capital, a subsidiary of Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House, has hit out at reports its former deputy chief executive David Haigh is considering writing a book about his time as managing director of Leeds United Football Club and is arrest in Dubai in May on allegations of embezzling $6.4 million.
Last week it was confirmed that two publishers, one from the UK and one international, have approached Haigh to turn his experiences into a book and the 36-year-old is currently considering the offers.
The book would likely focus on Haigh’s role in helping GFHC buy English football club Leeds United in December 2012 and his appointment as its managing director. He resigned his post at the club in April following Massimo Cellino’s purchase of a 75 percent stake in the club and the following month he was arrested in Dubai amid allegations, which he has denied, of financial irregularities whilst working for GFHC.
“We find it strange that Mr Haigh now seems to be able to negotiate an alleged publishing deal, as well as purportedly tweeting and briefing the media, but then asserts before the DIFC [Dubai International Financial Centre] Court that he is unable to answer GFH Capital’s claim against him,” a GFHC spokesperson told Arabian Business.
“In reality this story should be taken with a similar pinch of salt to his other claims of dossiers and the like, none of which have ever seemed based on any fact. And if it did see the light of day, you have to wonder what the title would be – “Embezzlement: It’s Just Not Worth It! And even then he would potentially fall foul of the UK’s Proceeds of Crime Act 2002,” he added.
Haigh has been in jail since he was arrested on May 18 when he arrived at GFH’s Dubai office on the premise of discussing a new job. He has been referred to the Public Prosecution for trial on charges of “embezzlement, swindling and breach of trust”, but to date no criminal charges have been brought against him.
In a hearing at the DIFC Courts last month, a freezing order was placed on Haigh’s global assets.
In its statement of claim, GFHC alleges that while working as deputy CEO for the Gulf finance company Haigh created a spate of false invoices for third party work that was then paid for into bank accounts operated by him.
As part of his defence against GFHC’s claims, Haigh’s team has disputed that such a volume and frequency of invoices could have been issued without the knowledge of senior GFHC people and that “many of the signatures purporting to be his may be forgeries”.
In an interview with the BBC, Haigh said he had made mistakes during his time as deputy CEO of Dubai-based GFH Capital, and regretted signing blank cheques and also allowing other staff access to his computer and emails.
His defence lawyer Bushra Ahmed also accused GFHC of “disabling” Haigh’s ability to deal with the company’s lawsuit against him by filing a concurrent criminal complaint, which was keeping him in jail.
Ahmed told a Dubai court that Haigh “has no access to his records, he’s under medication at present, the conditions in the prison are… he has no access to pens, he has no access to papers, he is not someone who is concentrating, he is not focused.”
GFH Capital executive Jinesh Patel told BBC Radio Leeds earlier this month “none of us want to be in this situation. Unfortunately a fraud has been perpetrated on massive scale and over a period of time – at least 18 months – and we are duty bound as an organisation that is regulated, supervised as well as run on Islamic principles to actually undertake an investigation and bring it to the attention of authorities across Dubai and the UK and that’s what we’ve done.”
“It’s not about personalising an issue whatsoever, it’s really about recovery of the assets and the money that’s been taken from GFH Capital fraudulently and seeking recover of those.”