Ex-Leeds United managing director faces fresh claims

David Haigh
David Haigh
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THE former owners of Leeds United have hit back at the club’s ex-managing director David Haigh in the ongoing row over his detention in Dubai over fraud allegations.

Mr Haigh, who has been in prison in Dubai since May facing claims of “false invoice fraud” by Gulf Finance House, last week issued a 1,581-word statement where he claimed he had been “falsely and wrongly imprisoned”

He said a report by accountancy firm Pricewaterhousecoopers showed there was no evidence he had created fake invoices to illegally divert millions of pounds of funds from GFH.

In a response yesterday, the Dubai-based investment bank said it had sworn witness statements from bank officials showing money from GFH had been transferred into two accounts in Mr Haigh’s name and one in the name of his friend. It said: “These statements therefore remove any doubt that Mr Haigh was in receipt of these funds.”

Mr Haigh said that because his assets had been frozen he had “been forced to default on normal day-to-day commitments as they prevented me from spending even a penny on my living expenses, such as food or medicine” and added that he feared losing his house.

GFH said a transcript from a hearing at the Dubai International Financial Centre court from last month “revealed a very different story” and that Mr Haigh applied unsuccessfully to have his weekly allowance doubled from $2,050 (£1,265) per week.

It said: “It also was revealed that he claims current monthly outgoings in the United Kingdom of some £26,000 per month, including such items as £1,000 a month for gym membership, £1,000 on telephone calls and £3,000 a month to a partner, despite his being in custody in Dubai.”

Mr Haigh, who denies the fraud claims, was arrested on May 18 after he flew to the Middle East for talks about a supposed new position with GFH.

He was one of the men behind GFH’s purchase of Leeds in 2012 but left his job with the firm earlier this year as Italian businessman Massimo Cellino closed in on a 75 per cent takeover of Leeds United.

A spokesman for Mr Haigh said: “David continues to maintain his complete innocence of any wrongdoing. He denies all the civil claims made against him. Independent handwriting tests carried out on his behalf have established that the forged signatures on the invoices were not his.”

Alex Newman, partner at Irwin Mitchell in Leeds

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