Dubai court freezes assets in GFH fraud case
Manama, June 19, 2014
A Dubai court has extended an order to freeze the worldwide assets of a former official of GFH Capital, the Dubai-based subsidiary of Bahrain's Gulf Finance House (GFH).
David Haigh, former managing director of Leeds United and former GFH Capital deputy chief executive, has been in a Dubai detention centre for more than a month over allegations of fraud and embezzlement, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
According to the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Court of First Instance, Haigh is accused of a breach of contract and siphoning off funds "by creating or procuring the creation of false invoices".
He allegedly misappropriated funds by forging and approving payment to at least four companies linked to accounts in his own name between April 2013 and March 2014, when he resigned.
While legal authorities in Dubai are pursuing criminal charges against Haigh, GFH Capital has filed a civil suit seeking $5 million in damages, plus interest, costs and "other relief as the court thinks fit".
Haigh appeared in court on Tuesday where his lawyer was denied a two-month extension to submit defence arguments.
"The judge also granted a request by GFH Capital to extend the freeze order to include the assets and shares of Sport Capital for an indefinite period," said well-placed sources that attended the hearing.
"The DIFC Court's judge, Sir John Chadwick, a retired English Court of Appeal judge, heard further evidence presented by GFH Capital including that which confirms Haigh as the beneficiary of an account to which fraudulent transactions were channelled.
"A letter of request to the UK High Court was also granted asking for assistance from the UK banks alleged to have been used for the fraudulent actions to reveal relevant information on this matter.
"Attempts brought by Haigh's lawyers at the hearing to stay the application were firmly rejected by the judge as were suggestions that Haigh required a further two to three months to prepare a defence."
Haigh is expected to remain in custody until at least the next scheduled hearing next Monday.
"David is now being held in custody for a fifth week since his arrest," said a spokesman for Haigh.
"During that time no criminal charges have been brought against him, despite various allegations made publicly by GFH.
"At the same time, GFH has publicly filed a civil claim against David which he is fully defending through his team of international lawyers.
"He and they believe that this claim amounts to no more than a commercial dispute.
"From the documentation he has seen, David is clear that many of the signatures purporting to be his may be forgeries."
GFH declined to comment on the ongoing trial when contacted by the GDN yesterday. - TradeArabia News Service