Defiant Craig Whyte claims administrators Duff & Phelps knew about Ticketus deal
FORMER Rangers owner Craig Whyte unexpectedly stepped back into the public eye yesterday, making a series of claims in a BBC Scotland interview which have angered the Ibrox club’s current chief executive and administrators Duff & Phelps.
• Whyte claims Duff & Phelps knew “everything” about the deal
• Creditors vote in favour of liquidating ‘oldco’ Rangers
• Green disputes Whyte’s comments as “misleading”
Whyte claimed that Duff & Phelps knew he had used future season tickets revenue to finance his purchase of the club, and also claimed that he had been responsible for helping to find Charles Green’s consortium as potential saviours after the club had been plunged into administration. Both claims were immediately refuted in separate statements issued by Duff & Phelps and by Green.
Whyte bought Rangers from Sir David Murray for a token sum of £1, but his purchase came with an undertaking that he would settle the £18 million debt the club had outstanding with Lloyds Bank. It later transpired that Whyte had cleared the debt using three years of advance season ticket sales he had accrued from a £25m deal with Ticketus.
In yesterday’s BBC interview, Whyte insisted Duff & Phelps, who were appointed the club’s administrators, had been aware of the deal with Ticketus.
“Everybody who was involved in the deal team at the time knew about it,” claimed Whyte. “They [Duff & Phelps] knew everything, they attended meetings, they were copied into all the e-mails, they were there on the day of completion. They knew from the start.”
However, Paul Clark, of Duff & Phelps, joint administrator of Rangers, responded: “The allegations against the administrators, who are officers of the court, in relation to Ticketus, are false, malicious and without foundation. They should not be given any credibility given the source. It should be remembered that Mr Whyte’s takeover of Rangers is now the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation and we have provided evidence to that inquiry.
“In addition, as administrators we instigated legal proceedings against Mr Whyte’s solicitors in the High Court in London and those proceedings are centred round the very serious allegation that Mr Whyte was involved in a conspiracy which deprived Rangers of many millions of pounds.
“Our conduct of the Rangers administration has been the subject of intense public scrutiny and we are wholly satisfied it was carried out the highest professional standards. We have co-operated fully with inquiries into our appointment by Lord Hodge at the Court of Session and the Insolvency Practitioners’ Association.”
In the interview, broadcast on Reporting Scotland last night, venture capitalist Whyte also claimed the fact that he had not used his own money to fund his purchase of Rangers had been clearly laid out in sale documents. He told the BBC: “It was certainly mentioned in the sale agreement that season ticket funding may well be used. There was also mention of third-party funds. So, it wasn’t me somehow pretending that I used my own money when I wasn’t. It was clearly documented.
“All the advisers on my side of the table knew about it, the takeover panel knew about it. It was not a secret. The only people who were perhaps misled were the media and the fans, which is regrettable with hindsight.”
But the 41-year-old denied lying to fans about how his takeover was funded. He said: “I think I was asked a specific question: ‘Did you mortgage the season tickets.’ I said ‘no’ because they weren’t mortgaged. To be fair, with the benefit of hindsight, what I should have done when I first bought the club was be more open about the funding. I didn’t lie, but perhaps I misled people about that and it was a mistake with hindsight.”
During the administration process, Duff & Phelps cast the net wide to find new owners, and Whyte claimed credit for helping to identify Green.
“I was the one who found a buyer – it wasn’t Duff & Phelps,” he said. “My colleagues in London – when no credible buyer was coming forward – went out and used our contacts in the city to put a suitable deal together.”
Green quickly disputed this version of events, however. The Rangers chief executive said: “Yet again Craig Whyte’s version of events paints a misleading picture of what actually happened and it’s regrettable that the BBC is providing him with such a platform. The facts are that direct contact was made by our consortium with Craig Whyte in the first instance as it appeared at that time that his shares would have to be secured in order for any purchase of the club to progress. I was not present when contact was initially made, but subsequently met Craig Whyte, who introduced me to the administrator.”
Whyte insisted his relationship with Green was a healthy one. He said: “I think given the public perception of me, people are keen to distance themselves from me publicly. But I have no problem with the current management of Rangers.”
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