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Wed 2 Jul 2014 01:17 PM

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Dubai's GFH Capital defends action against ex-Leeds Utd chief

Investment company says it has 'no interest in putting somebody in prison' but want to recover assets in dispute with David Haigh

Dubai's GFH Capital defends action against ex-Leeds Utd chief
David Haigh has been held in a Dubai jail since late May amid allegations, which he has denied, of financial irregularities whilst working for GFH.

GFH Capital executive Jinesh Patel has defended the Dubai investment bank’s legal action against former employee and Leeds United boss David Haigh, saying it had “no interest in putting somebody in prison” but wanted to recover its assets.

Just days after former Leeds United owner Ken Bates blasted the company over its treatment of Haigh, Jinesh Patel, GFHC’s senior executive officer, said it also had no control over criminal proceedings, but backed the Dubai justice system, which under UAE law can keep somebody in custody without charge.

Haigh, who resigned from his Elland Road post in April following Massimo Cellino’s purchase of a 75 percent stake in the club, has been held in a Dubai jail since late May 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.

“None of us want to be in this situation. Unfortunately a fraud has been perpetrated on massive scale and over a period of time – at least 18 months – and we are duty bound as an organisation that is regulated, supervised as well as run on Islamic principles to actually undertake an investigation and bring it to the attention of authorities across Dubai and the UK and that’s what we’ve done,” Patel told BBC Radio Leeds on Tuesday.

“It’s not about personalising an issue whatsoever, it’s really about recovery of the assets and the money that’s been taken from GFH Capital fraudulently and seeking recover of those.”

Patel said DIFC Courts granted a worldwide freezing order on Haigh’s assets based on “very, very compelling evidence”, but that GFHC had no control over the criminal matter. He likened Haigh’s detention without charge to the French inquisitory process whereby somebody can be held and not necessarily charged on the basis of very strong evidence.

“Mr Haigh was arrested and the Public Prosecution here, the Dubai Police will be undertaking their investigation, which they are, and that takes its own course,” he told the BBC.

“Unfortunately, we are being made to be seen as the perpetrators of getting David arrested on a wrongful basis – that is not the case whatsoever. We have no interest in putting somebody in prison and we just simply want to have recovery of our assets that have been taken fraudulently.”

This week Bates described GFH Capital as “untrustworthy” and “liars” while slamming their treatment of the Championship club’s ex-managing director Haigh.

He also said that evidence Haigh claims to have concerning “wrongdoing” at the Yorkshire outfit was the reason for the imprisonment.

“Unfortunately, there is no merit and no fact behind any of these allegations,” Patel said. “We’d be happy to entertain any facts and any information that David or his spokespeople of his representatives have, we’d be more than happy to have those presented either to us or to any regulatory authorities or any other authorities, because if there is something to answer we will answer it. But there is nothing to answer.”

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.

A spokesman for Haigh said this week that “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”.

“Now, we don’t want anybody to be incarcerated, the conditions, I can’t comment upon, but obviously they’re not going to be ideal,” Patel said in the BBC interview. “However, having said that, David does seem to be able to get a lot of messages out and brief the media at will even though he says that he has no access to the outside world.”

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