David Haigh denies allegations in $5m lawsuit but admits to making mistakes in role as GFH Capital deputy CEO in Dubai
David Haigh, the former managing director of Leeds United FC who has been in a Dubai jail for weeks on allegations of falsifying invoices worth $5 million, has admitted to signing blank cheques.
Speaking to the BBC's Middle East correspondent Mark Lobel from prison, Haigh said he had made mistakes during his time as deputy CEO of Dubai-based GFH Capital but vehemently denied the claims in the lawsuit filed by his former employer.
In a radio interview, Lobel said Haigh regrets signing the cheques and also allowing other staff access to his computer and emails.
Haigh claimed that heavy job cuts at GFH Capital forced his hand and while he "jumped from country to country" he allowed others to act on his behalf. He said he believes this is what is behind the discrepancies at the crux of the allegations.
Haigh also told Lobel that some documents he has seen have his signature replicated on them, adding that he had "bombshell" allegations about his former employer which may be why they have acted against him.
GFH Capital, a subsidiary of Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House, launched legal action against Haigh, 36, late last month, with a statement of claim alleging that while working for the finance company he created a spate of false invoices for third party work that was then paid for into bank accounts operated by him.
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 and the matter is still listed as under “investigation” on the Dubai Public Prosecution website.
Haigh, who negotiated GFH Capital’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 on May 18.
Earlier this month, 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.
In comments made to Lobel, Haigh revealed that his return to Dubai last month had been on the pretence of discussing a "lucrative new job" with GFH Capital. However, as soon as he arrived at their offices he was arrested.
Lobel added that Haigh said he was not frustrated by the UAE legal system which he has no complaints with but he feels he cannot launch a proper defence stuck in jail.
He said 40 inmates have to share a single pay phone and there are no computers or internet and access to lawyers are very limited.
Haigh, who is said to be in a lot of pain after undergoing surgery on his stomach shortly before arriving in Dubai, also said he is "dumbfounded" that a bail of £3.5 million has been offered to him but he no way of paying it.
Haigh, who resigned from his job at GFH Capital in March before leaving Leeds in April, is due to have his detention reviewed on June 23.