Extraordinary Twitter attack on Leeds United’s former Gulf owner

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GULF Finance House, the ex-owner of Leeds United, appears to be the target of a remarkable attack in which contact details of senior bank officials have been published online by its own private equity firm.

The Twitter account of GFH Capital, the Dubai-based arm of GFH which bought Leeds in 2012, began attacking the bank earlier today in a series of rogue tweets aimed at GFH and prominent employees.

The development came after a week in which GFH Capital’s official website began displaying a newspaper report alleging financial wrongdoing by the bank during its buy-out of United in 2012, an accusation GFH denies.

Tweets on GFH Capital’s feed this afternoon have now published what it claims are private phone numbers of Hisham Alrayes and Jinesh Patel.

The account, which had been dormant since November 2012, began posting extraordinary messages around lunchtime today.

Alrayes is chief executive of GFH and was a board member at Elland Road until he resigned from that post in September 2013.

Patel is GFH Capital’s chief executive officer. He is no relation of Salem Patel, an existing Leeds director and GFH’s head of investment management.

GFH owned Leeds for 14 turbulent months, finally selling a majority share in the Championship club to Massimo Cellino in February of this year.

It continues to hold a 10 per cent stake and manages a shareholding of 25 per cent.

The bank is currently involved in a bitter dispute with David Haigh, United’s former managing director and ex-GFH Capital deputy CEO.

Haigh was arrested in Dubai in May after GFH accused him of misappropriating more than £3m of funds during his time as GFH Capital CEO.

Haigh, who denies the claims and says he has evidence of wrongdoing by others at GFH, has been imprisoned without charge for the past six months.

He resigned from his post at GFH Capital in February but flew out to the Middle East on May 18 to discuss the offer of a new job from the firm.

Haigh was arrested by local police shortly after arriving at the company’s offices.

GFH Capital was approached for comment about the bizarre changes to its website earlier this week but did not respond.

Patel has also been approached for comment.

Today’s tweets included what appeared to be text messages from Alrayes ordering the sacking of former Leeds manager Brian McDermott in January.

GFH is understood to have called for McDermott’s dismissal at half-time of a 6-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on January 11.

Haigh - the only Leeds board member present at the game - refused to carry out the order and McDermott continued in his post.

Despite residing in a Dubai Police Station, Haigh’s twitter account has directed a series of critical messages at GFH this week.

One of them, which was posted on Tuesday, read: “Everything starting to fall into place about the real wrongdoing and wrongdoers. Reports made to law enforcements agencies.”