Former Islamic bank GC arrested in Dubai over Leeds United sale allegations

The former general counsel of Islamic bank Gulf Finance House (GFH) Capital David Haigh has been arrested in Dubai, reportedly in relation to alleged financial irregularities surrounding GFH’s ownership and sale of Leeds United Football Club. 

Haigh, who was once managing director of Leeds United, was arrested three days ago. He is understood to have spent the past few days in prison in Dubai following allegations surrounding the sale, according to the BBC.

GFH bought the football club from former owner Ken Bates in December 2012. Haigh became managing director in July 2013. As general counsel he was responsible for leading the acquisition, the first successful acquisition of a football club by an Islamic Bank, as well as handling a stream of litigation following it. 

However, he resigned from his job at GFH earlier this year just one week after Italian businessman Massimo Cellino acquired a 75 per cent stake in the club. He was due to become Leeds’ chief executive when the Italian businessman’s takeover went through in April but resigned from his position as managing director on 7 April.

Consortium Sport Capital, headed by Haigh, had attempted to take over the club at the beginning of the year but the consortium pulled out of its offer to buy up 75 per cent of the shares in January. The club was taken over by Eleonora Sport Ltd, a company owned by the Cellino family.

Last month it emerged that Sport Capital had issued a winding up petition against the club, due to be considered at a 9 June hearing.

As deputy CEO and general counsel of GFH Capital, a Dubai-based Islamic investment bank, operating from the Dubai International Financial Centre, Haigh was based in Dubai until this year, when he moved back to Leeds permanently. He is understood to have been travelling back to Dubai this week when he was arrested. 

Earlier this year he took to Twitter to respond to enquiries over “the truth” surrounding his exit from the club, saying he was “working on setting up some interviews in the coming week or two”.

On the same day he responded to another user’s comment about being the scapegoat with “that makes two of us”.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are aware of the arrest of a British national in Dubai on 18 May 2014. We are providing consular assistance.”

According to the BBC, Haigh denies the allegations.