Former Leeds United chief David Haigh declared bankrupt and could face jail
Updated: Jul 17, 2022
Former Leeds United chief David Haigh declared bankrupt and could face jail if he does not disclose what he did with money stolen from club's previous owners, court rules
The former managing director of Leeds United could be jailed if he does not disclose what he did with a multi-million pound sum embezzled from the club's previous owners, a judge has ruled.
It comes as a document on the Government's Insolvency Service register revealed today that the businessman has this month filed for bankruptcy.
David Haigh was convicted in 2015 by a Dubai court of siphoning off nearly £4m in funds from his then-employers GFH Capital Ltd, a private equity company based in the Middle East which previously owned the football club.
A later judgement from 2018 calling Mr Haigh a "fraudster" and ordering him to repay the funds was upheld in May this year by the English courts, a ruling which he immediately appealed.
In the ongoing legal saga, a judge has now ruled Haigh's grounds for appeal were "without merit" and issued a penal notice, meaning he could be imprisoned, face a contempt of court charge or fined if he does not disclose documents to show what he did with the money.
The judgement, which was made at the end of last month but published this week, also refused to accept Mr Haigh's claims he has been seeking psychiatric treatment in hospital throughout the ongoing court proceedings.
Mr Justice Henshaw said there was no "credible" evidence to prove Mr Haigh was unable to fully comply with the court proceedings due to being an inpatient, saying he had failed to comply with requests to provide concrete proof.
He said: "I do not accept that Mr Haigh would be unable to fulfil the obligations imposed on him, or indeed necessarily to take part in the present hearing, even if he had been in hospital.
"There is, in particular, no evidence of any kind, let alone any independent evidence, that Mr Haigh was actually in receipt of treatment during the time over which the present hearing has taken place. I have already expressed the reasons for my conclusion that the true reason for Mr Haigh’s non-participation in this hearing has been his deliberate choice not to do so."
Sums of £2,039,793.70, AED 8,735,340 and USD $50,000 were originally awarded in damages to GFH, after Dubai judge Mr Justice Cook ruled Mr Haigh had caused the sums to be paid into the bank accounts of himself and a close friend.
Mr Haigh spent more than two years in prison over the fraud conviction after he was brought to the UAE and arrested in May 2014.
Since his release and return to England in 2016, Mr Haigh has repeatedly claimed his human rights were breached before and during his incarceration.
In the ruling in May, previous Dubai judge Mr Justice Cook was quoted as saying: “No-one has ever come forward with a coherent explanation for the fact that large sums of money found their way into the bank accounts of [Mr Haigh] and that false invoices were created with payment instructions which disguised the receipt of those sums by [him]”.