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Wed 4 Jun 2014 03:08 PM

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Dubai court freezes global assets of jailed former Leeds United chief

Ex-GFH Capital deputy chief executive David Haigh denies $6.45m embezzlement claims

Dubai court freezes global assets of jailed former Leeds United chief

A judge has granted an interim worldwide freezing order on the assets of former GFH Capital (GFHC) executive David Haigh following a hearing at the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts on Tuesday.

In the civil case hearing before Deputy Chief Justice Sir John Chadwick, who was presiding via video link from London, lawyers for GFHC also applied for an interim search order on his assets, which was also granted.

Last month police said GFHC was suing Haigh, who was the DIFC-based company’s deputy chief executive and is also former managing director of English football club Leeds United, for allegedly embezzling AED23.7m ($6.45m), adding that the company discovered irregularities when it conducted its annual internal accounting audit.

It had been thought the allegations against Haigh relate to GFHC’s time as owner of Leeds United and the recent sale of the Championship side to Italian Massimo Cellino, though GFHC CEO Jinesh Patel has said the issues were “unrelated”.

WAM reported last month Haigh had also been referred to the Public Prosecution for trial on charges of “embezzlement, swindling and breach of trust”, though it is understood to date no criminal charges have been laid with Tuesday’s hearing related only to the civil matter.

Haigh, 36, who was a key player in the GFHC’s purchase of Leeds from Ken Bates in December 2012, denies all claims against him.

Arabian Business has confirmed that lawyers for Haigh told the court on Tuesday that they were awaiting instructions from their client, who has been in a Dubai jail since his arrest shortly after arriving at GFHC’s offices on May 18 on the premise of talking about a new work opportunity.

The court also heard that Haigh may be released from jail as early as June 8, but it is unclear what conditions would be attached to his release.

The case was provisionally set down for a further hearing on June 17, when the defence will be given a chance to respond to the interim injunction application, though a decision is set to be made next week as to whether it will be needed or whether the judge will deal with the case on paper.

It is understood that the interim freezing order still allows Haigh to access finances for everyday tasks such as paying bills.

A friend close to Haigh told Arabian Business today that he had now been in custody for 18 days though “no criminal charges whatsoever have been brought against him”.

“He doesn’t blame in any way the Dubai system, but he does feel that it’s being misused,” the friend said.

Haigh became a club director of Leeds after the 2012 takeover and later took up the job of managing director at Elland Road in July 2013.

He resigned from his job at GFHC in February this year after Cellino bought a 75 percent stake in the club.

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