Jailed former managing director of Leeds United
Football Club, David Haigh, is “under medication” and “not focused” with no
access to emails, a computer or paperwork needed to mount his defence, his
lawyer told a Dubai court on Tuesday.
In a hearing at the Dubai International Financial
Centre Courts, in which a freezing order on Haigh’s assets was extended, lawyer
Bushra Ahmed also accused investment firm GFH Capital of “disabling” Haigh’s
ability to deal with the company’s $5m lawsuit against him by filing a
concurrent criminal complaint, which was keeping him in jail.
GFHC, 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 as deputy CEO 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.
Haigh, who has been in jail since his arrest at
GFHC’s offices on May 18, 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.
In court on Tuesday, Andrew Bodnar, for GFHC,
argued that the freezing order should be expanded to include Sport Capital amid
concerns that Haigh may move to divest shares in the company.
On June 9, a UK high court ruled in favour of Sport
Capital in its £950,000 ($1,611,208) winding up petition against Leeds United over an unpaid
debt in the third such petition to have been slapped on the embattled football
club this year.
Ahmed told the Dubai court that “our instructions
are that Haigh has no direct or indirect interest in Sport Capital” and “we
simply don’t have any instructions to defend the application”.
“He has no access to his records, he’s under
medication at present, the conditions in the prison are… he has no access to
pens, he has no access to papers, he is not someone who is concentrating, he is
not focused,” she said.
However, Bodnar pointed to an email written from
Haigh’s GFHC email on November 20 last year confirming Sport Capital had been
newly incorporated in Guernsey and in which he said “I am the sole beneficiary
owner of this through my trust in Geneva”.
Bodnar said a company search showed Sport Capital
was owned by a Chateau Management Ltd in Nevis, with another shareholder named
as Chateau Fiducia SA and no personal directors.
Bodnar said it was “more than merely arguable that
those fiduciaries operate for the benefit of someone else”. “It would be a
remarkable co-incidence if Sport Capital is not his,” he said.
“We would prefer that he is prevented from dealing
with the assets of Sport Capital itself.”
As part of his defence against GFHC’s claims,
Haigh’s team has disputed 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”.
Before granting the request, Deputy Chief Justice
Sir John Chadwick said “at least he knows that if he’s found to have his paws
all over Sport Capital then it’s a problem”.
Ahmed requested that financial provisions beyond
living expenses be included in the order should Haigh need to put up a surety
if he is granted bail.
She also argued against a search of the third-party
bank accounts allegedly controlled by Haigh, which would “take control out of
Mr Haigh’s hands” to verify the details of the accounts.
Justice Chadwick said if the bank accounts did not
belong to Haigh then he should not object to the search, adding that it was in
the best interests to establish who was in charge of them.
He said an application to fund bail, including the
amount and funding sources, could be made when required and dealt with on
Haigh, who resigned from his job at GFH Capital in
March before leaving Leeds in April, is due to have his detention reviewed on
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.