FORMER Rangers owner Craig Whyte is facing bankruptcy after losing a court battle with Ticketus over a £17.7 million dispute.
• Craig Whyte loses legal battle over £17.7m Ticketus deal struck in 2011
• High court judge rules Whyte lied to Ticketus in order to secure deal
• Ticketus ‘unaware’ of Whyte’s seven-year directorship ban
Whyte has been ordered to pay the sum back to Ticketus after a High Court judge in London ruled in favour of the company, who were suing Whyte for luring them into a deal on false pretenses.
The Monaco-based businessman must also pay an additional £700,000 in interest and legal costs after his bid to counter-sue the company failed.
The dispute centres on the contract agreed between Ticketus and Whyte, the latter of whom had agreed to sell three years’ worth of season ticket sales to the company for £25 million, some of which he used to fund his takeover of the Ibrox club in May 2011.
He spent a further £18 million paying off legacy debt to Lloyds TSB, owed since Sir David’s Murray’s stewardship of Rangers.
Ticketus are understood to have sued Whyte because they were unaware of his seven-year directorship ban. A court source told The Scottish Sun that Ticketus would never have agreed to a deal if they had been aware of Whyte’s disqualification. The company had hoped to make a £7 million profit from the season ticket sales.
Sports finance expert Dr Chris Brady told The Scottish Sun: “Basically he’s got to pay the money back - if he hasn’t got it then he’s effectively bankrupt.
“They will try and acquire his assets. But any assets that are held abroad would be out of reach - they wouldn’t be able to get a hold of that.”
A statement from Ticketus confirms the company will now seek to recover the cash owed to them by Whyte as well as their legal costs.
It said: “Ticketus can confirm that it has been undertaking legal proceedings against Mr Whyte.
“As part of these proceedings, Ticketus confirms that a Judgment was issued in its favour on Friday, April 5, following a claim it made against Craig Whyte.
“The Judgment relates to Ticketus’ claim against Mr Whyte for the serious and deliberate misrepresentations he made during the due diligence process that Ticketus conducted ahead of entering into the ticket purchase agreement with Rangers Football Club plc in May 2011, when Mr Whyte owned the Club.
“Ticketus would not have entered into the ticket purchase agreement with the club if Mr Whyte had disclosed, as required, relevant information concerning his previous seven-year disqualification from serving as a director, and the reasons for the disqualification.
“The Judgment consequently is for damages of £17.7 million, which is the total amount Ticketus invested through the ticket purchase agreement - further interest of around £680,000 and costs have also been awarded. Ticketus will now seek payment of these sums from Mr Whyte. If such payment is not made, Ticketus will enforce its rights to receive such damages.”
The statement added: “Ticketus can confirm that during the proceedings Mr Whyte also raised counter-claims against Ticketus. These were rejected in the Judgment.
“The Judgment does not preclude Ticketus from continuing in the proceedings to pursue Mr Whyte under the personal and corporate guarantees built into the ticket purchase agreement as it seeks to recover funds on behalf of its investors.”
A spokesman for Whyte said that the former Rangers chairman plans to appeal the decision, saying: “Craig is aware of the judgement. It was not totally unexpected as he wasn’t given a full trial. He will now be taking his appeal to the High Court.”
Rangers went in administration in February last year before eventually being liquidated when Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs rejected a Company Voluntary Arrangement over an outstanding tax bill which Whyte had failed to settle during his 13-month spell as Light Blues chairman.
Charles Green later reformed the club after purchasing its assets from Whyte.
However, Whyte has now threatened legal action against Green and former Rangers director Imran Ahmad - demanding £1 million a year for life or 25 per cent of the Ibrox chief executive’s shares.
Whyte claims he was the main driver behind the Sevco 5088 company which purchased the assets and business of the company he had put into administration.
Days later Green transferred the assets - which were bought for £5.5 million in June last year - to a different company called Sevco Scotland, which then became The Rangers Football Club.
Whyte’s main argument appears to be that such a transfer was illegal and he remains the rightful owner of the club’s assets.
Whyte’s seven-year company directorship ban ended in 2007, but he will never set foot in Scottish football again after the SFA handed him a life ban and a £200,000 fine following the end of his ill-fated spell at the helm of Rangers.