THE would-be saviour of Dundee FC, Giovanni Di Stefano, is a convicted fraudster who has lied about his criminal past and his educational qualifications.
Since his release from prison in 1988, Di Stefano has repeatedly maintained that he was acquitted of the charges on appeal - but an investigation by Scotland on Sunday has revealed that he was not only convicted, but that his later appeal was dismissed.
In addition, Di Stefano has been deported from the US as an inadmissible alien and was banned from entering New Zealand as a prohibited immigrant.
Di Stefano has often lied about his criminal past. He was convicted of serious offences on March 18, 1986, following a 78-day trial at the Old Bailey in London. Judge Anthony Lewisohn sentenced Di Stefano to five years’ imprisonment, saying that he was "one of nature’s fraudsters" and a "swindler without scruple or conscience".
Scotland on Sunday today publishes, for the first time, a document from the record office at the Central Criminal Court proving that he was convicted and that later, on January 27, 1987, Di Stefano’s appeal against conviction was dismissed.
Regarding his educational background, in the latest edition of Marquis Who’s Who, Di Stefano claims to have obtained a PhD at Cambridge University in 1981.
But the records office at the university told Scotland on Sunday that no person of the name John or Giovanni Di Stefano gained any academic qualification around that time.
Doubt has also been cast in an English court over Di Stefano’s claim that he is an Italian avvocato, a lawyer.
Now a new investigation could see Di Stefano effectively removed from Scottish football, with unpredictable consequences for financially stricken Dundee FC.
Under a little-known rule, the Scottish Football Association will shortly inquire into Di Stefano’s true background. Article 10 of the SFA’s Articles of Association states that the Board of the SFA must be satisfied that a director of a member club is "a fit and proper person to hold such a position within Association Football".
The General Purposes Committee of the SFA will meet next month to discuss Di Stefano’s appointment as a director by club majority shareholders Peter and Jimmy Marr.
Last night a senior SFA source indicated that a full probe will be carried out into Di Stefano’s background. "There will be no rubber stamp on this application," said the insider.
The same source said the SFA was being placed in "an impossible position" by the Di Stefano case, as a decision to ban him could precipitate the closure of a member club. Dundee FC is in a deep financial crisis, which Di Stefano promised to cure with the injection of at least 26m.
A source close to Dundee FC’s financial management said that if Di Stefano was banned from being a director and then pulled out, Dundee would "close unless the Marrs and the bank support the club".
In response to questions put to him about his past, Di Stefano said they were "utterly irrelevant" and he would challenge "untrue allegations" in court.