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Thu 5 Jul 2018 09:24 AM

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Dubai courts uphold claims against ex-Leeds owner Haigh

Former deputy chief executive of GFH Capital ordered to pay $6m to company's Bahraini owners

Dubai courts uphold claims against ex-Leeds owner Haigh
David Haigh, former CEO of Leeds United, pictured in 2014. Photo by Rob Munro/Getty Images

DIFC Courts have upheld a multi-million dollar judgment against former deputy chief executive of GFH Capital David Haigh after his conviction for fraud and embezzlement in 2015.

Following the conclusion of the four-day trial in Dubai, Haigh was ordered to repay the firm $6m plus costs. GFH will now seek to enforce the judgment through the British court system.

In January 2017, Haigh had been found to have faked about 100 invoices which resulted in millions of pounds and dirhams being paid into at least four different bank accounts he controlled in Dubai, London and Manchester. He served two years in prison from 2014 and was subsequently deported from the UAE.

The judgment from Sir Jeremy Cooke was unequivocal in its assessment of Haigh’s conduct.

“The court… is satisfied on the evidence that the defendant is a fraudster who caused to be paid into his own bank accounts and that of his close friend, monies belonging to the claimant in the sums of £2,039,793.70, AED8,735,340 and $50,000,” the judgment from said.

“What emerges from the evidence is a clear picture of the Defendant procuring payments of the Claimant’s funds to himself or to his order with the creation of false invoices in an attempt to conceal the reality of his defalcations.

"Despite a number of risible explanations, there is no gainsaying the fact that money belonging to the Claimant ended up in the bank accounts of the Defendant… none of the funds have been returned and there is, despite attempts to justify the receipt of funds, no proper basis for the Defendant having received them or for retaining them.”

A separate civil case, in which GFH is seeking $5m in damages plus legal and other costs, is ongoing.

Haigh, now 40, rose to prominence in November 2012 when he led GFH Capital’s purchase and subsequent short-lived ownership of English football club Leeds United. GFH sold a controlling stake in the tier-two club to Italian Massimo Cellino just 16 months later, finally exiting its remaining holding in September 2016.

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