Former Leeds United chairman Ken Bates has launched a scathing attack on former majority owners GFH Capital, describing them as “untrustworthy” and “liars” while slamming their treatment of the Championship club’s ex-managing director David Haigh.
Haigh, who resigned from his Elland Road post in April following Massimo Cellino’s purchase of a 75 percent stake in the club, is currently being held in Dubai amid allegations, which he has denied, of financial irregularities whilst working for GFH.
GFH Capital, a subsidiary of Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House, launched legal action against Haigh, 36, late last month, soon after his arrest when he arrived at the company’s Dubai office on the premise of discussing a new job.
Haigh has also 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.
Bates, who has previously reportedly described GFH in glowing terms to the Yorkshire Evening Post during the December 2012 takeover, told UK media on Friday that evidence Haigh claims to have concerning “wrongdoing” at the Yorkshire outfit was the reason for the imprisonment.
“I can only say my dealings with Gulf Finance House, particularly Salem Patel, but more importantly Hisham (Alrayes), who is his CEO, I found totally untrustworthy, totally unreliable, and totally liars,” he was quoted by The City Talking as telling Yorkshire Radio.
“Apparently, a couple of days after he was arrested, a lawyer acting on behalf of GFH, saw Haigh and told him that they intended to make sure he was found guilty, and they intended to keep him locked up for a very long time.
“And the reason for that is, as Haigh has told me a number of times over the last few months, he has serious evidence, of serious and continuing wrongdoing on behalf of GFH and GFH Capital.
“He can’t get to his apartment or anything; they’ve confiscated his laptop and this that and the other. It means of course that they have been able to get their hands on the damning evidence, hopefully from their point of view, to destroy it or eliminate it.”
In its statement of claim GFH Capital have alleged that while working for the finance company Haigh created a spate of false invoices for third party work that was then paid for into bank accounts operated by him.
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.
When contacted by Arabian Business about Bates’ comments, a spokesman for GFHC said: “We note Ken Bates’ bizarre comments in recent media articles. They appear to have been made with no basis on fact and therefore GFH Capital has no further comment.”
A spokesman for Haigh said: “David is grateful to all those supporting him as he enters his seventh week of detention without trial, charge and without even having been questioned by prosecutors or police.
“He believes that the position in which the actions of GFH and their lawyers have placed him is in breach of his fundamental human rights.
“He also believes that, as the full picture emerges, it will become clear why subterfuge was used to lure him to Dubai, to seek his incarceration and to freeze his bank accounts so that he is unable to pay his lawyers.”
GFHC have previously said the worldwide freezing order was applied for by GFH Capital and granted on the basis that Haigh was permitted access to funds to pay his lawyers. He also had the opportunity to apply to discharge the search order and had chosen not to do so, they said.