Solicitor David Haigh, former managing director of Leeds United, has been jailed for two years after being convicted of ‘breach of trust’ in the Dubai Criminal Court.
Haigh, 37, the former deputy chief executive and general counsel of Dubai-based investment firm GFH Capital, was sentenced on Tuesday. He intends to appeal.
Haigh was detained in a Dubai police station in May last year following his arrest shortly after arriving at GFH’s offices. He has been in custody ever since. The visit was made on the premise of discussing a new employment opportunity.
GFH accused Haigh of embezzlement, adding that the company discovered irregularities when it conducted its annual internal audit. Haigh has consistently denied the allegations, claiming he was ‘set up’.
Particulars of claim filed at Dubai International Financial Centre Courts in 2014 alleged that Haigh (pictured) ‘misappropriated funds from the claimant [GFH Capital] in a sum with a value approximating $5m by creating or procuring the creation of false invoices and procuring payment of those false invoices from funds belonging to the claimant’.
In June this year it was confirmed that Haigh would face embezzlement and breach of trust charges in Dubai after his case was escalated by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) to the criminal courts.
It was reported that Haigh may have to represent himself in the criminal proceedings after Stephenson Harwood and Olswang and local firm Nasser Malalla came off the record following a decision by the DIFC not to unfreeze funds.
Haigh brokered GFH’s purchase of Leeds United from Ken Bates in December 2012. He left his job at GFH after Italian businessman Massimo Cellino bought a 75% stake in the Championship club.
Haigh, who was brought up in West Cornwall, is understood to have trained as a solicitor at a firm in the West End of London. He has also been politically active, founding Conservatives in the Gulf in 2007.
Speaking to newspaper The Cornishman this afternoon, his sister, Ali Thomas, claimed Haigh was not properly represented at trial.
'I gather that he wasn't allowed into the trial, he wasn't allowed to call any witnesses and he wasn't even allowed to submit any written evidence,' she said.