Jailed ex-Leeds Utd chief to file rival lawsuit "in excess" of $5m

David Haigh, who is defending fraud allegations in Dubai, to launch a counter claim against GFH Capital
David Haigh, former deputy chief executive of Dubai-based GFH Capital. (Getty Images)
By Beatrice Thomas
Mon 09 Jun 2014 05:03 PM

Jailed former managing director of Leeds United football club David Haigh is set to file a rival legal case against minority owners GFH Capital (GFHC) for monies owed, which he forecasts will be “in excess” of the $5m lawsuit currently against him before the Dubai courts.

GFHC launched legal action against Haigh, 36, late last month, with a statement of claim alleging that while working for the Gulf finance company he created a spate of false invoices for third party work that was then paid for into bank accounts operated by him.

It said the invoices were allegedly created during the last 19 months of his tenure as deputy CEO of GFHC and were paid either directly by Haigh as they fell under a AED185,000 ($50,000) threshold for needing board member sign-off or paid by GFHC’s solicitors under his instruction.

He 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 and the matter is still listed as under “investigation” on the Dubai Public Prosecution website.

A spokesman for Haigh, who has said he will vigorously defend the civil claim, revealed today that Haigh was preparing a counter-claim against GFHC for monies owed to him “in excess of the amount of the claim made against him by GFH”.

The spokesman reiterated Haigh’s belief 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”.

A spokesman for GFHC told Arabian Business that forensic investigators were currently completing an examination of all fraudulent payments. “GFH Capital is satisfied that the investigators will be able to produce evidence that proves that Mr Haigh signed off on all the authorisations, either directly, or via normal procedures,” he said.

GFH Capital said it was aware of Haigh's move to lodge a countersuit and stood by its legal action against the former executive.

Haigh, who negotiated GFHC’s takeover of Leeds from former owner Ken Bates in 2012, as well as its on-sale to current owner Massimo Cellino this year, was arrested shortly after arriving in Dubai at GFHC’s offices on May 18.

Last week a judge granted an interim freezing order on Haigh’s global assets as well as interim search order on his property following a hearing at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Court of First Instance.

Haigh is facing at least another two weeks in jail after a Dubai judge renewed a holding paper keeping him behind bars.

Arabian Business has confirmed that at a hearing on Sunday in which the British businessman and former managing director of English football club Leeds United was present the renewal was extended until June 23.

Under Dubai law a holding paper is needed to keep someone in jail and is separate to Haigh’s bail application, which has yet to be determined and may be decided before the holding paper expires.

“Although he is deeply frustrated at being held in custody for this length of time without charge, David has no quarrel with the Dubai authorities whose hand he believes has been forced by the tactics used against him,” Haigh’s spokesman said.

The matter is due back in DIFC court on June 17.

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