Ex-Leeds United boss David Haigh told again to pay up over Dubai fraud

David Haigh.
David Haigh.

Ex-Leeds United boss David Haigh has again been ordered to pay back more than £3.8m nearly three years after first being convicted of a "breach of trust".

Justice Sir Jeremy Cooke on Wednesday upheld a judgement at the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts in the United Arab Emirates.


It relates to a claim by his former employer, GFH Capital Limited, that Mr Haigh forged invoices and fraudulently directed funds into his own and a friend’s bank accounts in Dubai, London and Manchester between 2012 and 2014.


The court judgement details how Mr Haigh dominated over a “culture of fear” in the Dubai office which led a “negligent or dim rather than dishonest” junior employee, Biju Matthew, to act as a Category B signatory on invoices during the fraud.

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In May 2014, a month after resigning as managing director of Leeds United, Mr Haigh was arrested by Dubai police, but has always protested his innocence against charges of fraud, embezzlement and financial irregularities. He was ultimately handed a two-year jail sentence after being convicted of “breach of trust” in Dubai in August 2015.

Now Mr Cooke’s judgement reads: “The Court, bearing in mind the seriousness of the allegations made, 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, AED 8,735,340 and US$50,000.”

It continues:" 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.

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"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, who was a senior employee in what he admits was a fiduciary position. 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."


The judgement adds that Mr Haigh, who did not appear in court, made “extravagant accusations” that the claims were “fabricated against him with a view to stopping him from whistle-blowing” about wider invoice falsifying at the firm, which had no basis in reality.

Mr Cooke ordered Mr Haigh to pay back the amount, as well as costs.

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He also dismissed the defendant’s counterclaims.


Mr Haigh was contacted for comment.