The man who fronted Sheikh Mansour’s takeover of Manchester City has been handed a five-year jail sentence for stealing £5m from his wife to fund his 2009 purchase of Portsmouth.
Sulaiman Al Fahim was sentenced last week in Dubai Criminal Court after being found guilty of forgery, using forged documents and aiding and abetting in the audacious swindle.
Al Fahim bought Portsmouth from Sacha Gaydamak in the summer of 2009, when they were still in the Premier League, but was only at the helm for six weeks before the club was acquired again by Ali Al Faraj.
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The 42-year-old’s first foray into English football came when he acted as the public face and spokesman of the September 2008 purchase of City by the Abu Dhabi United Group for £210m.
He raised eyebrows by publicly announcing that City would target a host of the world’s leading players, many of them from rival English clubs, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas.
Al Fahim was quickly sidelined in the following weeks as Sheikh Mansour emerged as the driving force behind the takeover, which has transformed the current league leaders into one of the game’s superpowers.
The Dubai court heard that Al Fahim’s wife, 39, deposited the £5m in a bank account in 2009 and discovered the money was missing two years later, after repeated queries about the lack of interest payments.
Police discovered that the sum had been transferred to a British law firm, at the request of Al Fahim, and later used for his takeover of Portsmouth.
She denied giving him authorisation to manage the account. An account manager was also sentenced to five years in prison.
Al Faraj replaced Al Fahim as Portsmouth owner in October as the club ran into serious financial difficulties. It proved the start of a disastrous spell in which the club – now stable again and back in League One – fell into administration twice in four years and sank to the fourth tier.
There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Sheikh Mansour or Manchester City.