Sulaiman Al-Fahim, who owned Portsmouth for six weeks in 2009, has been sentenced to five years in a United Arab Emirates jail for stealing £5m from his wife to fund the purchase of the club.
According to Dubai-based news site The National, the account manager of the businessman will also spend five years in jail.
In 2009, Al-Fahim bought Portsmouth from the French-Israeli businessman Alexandre “Sacha” Gaydamak. However, the Emirati sold the club a couple of weeks later to the Saudi Ali al-Faraj.
Al-Fahim's wife did not authorise use of bank account
Former Portsmouth owner Sulaiman Al Fahim, stole £5m from his wife to help buy the club in 2009. pic.twitter.com/qOVcFaFh7c— Coral (@Coral) 15 February 2018
According to prosecutors, Al-Fahim’s 39-year-old wife opened an account at a local bank in 2009 and began a fixed deposit. After realizing that the account wasn’t producing any profits, she contacted the accounts manager.
“He sent me an email in August 2010 confirming that the procedures for the fixed deposit had been completed and recommended that I continue my investment for another year,” The National cited Al-Fahim’s wife as saying, adding that she received several emails from the manager asking her to sign documents, which she refused to do.
In September 2011, she emailed the manager asking him to transfer the balance of her deposit to a different bank.
“But he kept stalling so I visited the bank and met the bank manager and another man, who told me that my account had zero money in it,” she said. “When the legal affairs didn’t do anything, I reported it to Al Rashidiyah police station.”
The account manager told the police that Al-Fahim was handling the woman’s fixed deposit after she gave him official authorization to do so.
Al-Fahim transferred the money to a law firm in the UK. Court records show that the money was later used to buy Portsmouth Football Club, then in the Premier League.
The woman denied giving the businessman authorisation to manage the account, saying: “I didn’t give my husband any authorisation to withdraw or transfer the money, I just gave him an authorisation to handle general inquires by phone and fax”.
Portsmouth, now in the third tier of English football, is currently owned by The Tornante Company, owned by former Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner.