Charles Green reported to Serious Fraud Office
The Worthington Group plc, which has close links to former Rangers owner Craig Whyte, claimed it had uncovered information “relating to the conduct of Mr Charles Green and Mr Imran Ahmad”, the club’s commercial director.
The detail came to light, said the statement to the Stock Exchange, during the course of the company’s due diligence process as it purchased a stake in Law Financial, a company owned by Mr Whyte.
The statement added: “Information has been discovered relating to the conduct of Mr Charles Green and Mr Imran Ahmad, this has today been reported to the Serious Fraud Office.”
Worthington did not detail what the allegation was and no-one at the company was available to expand on the claims last night.
The Serious Fraud Office declined to comment on the issue and could neither confirm nor deny whether it had received a complaint from the firm.
Worthington announced in the same statement that it had reached an agreement with Mr Whyte’s company, Law Financial Limited, to fund a lawsuit against Rangers over ownership of assets.
In what appears to be an unusual “conditional fee” agreement, Worthington claims that a legal team acting on its behalf will “share” 7.5 per cent of Rangers’ current and future convertible loan stock – debt that can be converted into shares – if it wins the case.
The legal team would also share up to 18.5 per cent of the “assets of Rangers”, which are understood to include Ibrox and the Murray Park training ground.
Legal action between Mr Whyte and Mr Green centres around the buyout of Rangers’ assets in summer 2012 and the ownership of a company, named Sevco 5088.
Mr Whyte claims that he owns this firm, which was used to acquire the assets of the old club from administrators Duff & Phelps during the crisis. He argues he is the rightful owner of Ibrox and other club assets.
Rangers – which disputes Mr Whyte’s claim to Sevco 5088 – had earlier issued a separate statement claiming that Sevco 5088 was a subsidiary of the club at the time of their stock exchange flotation and that Mr Green was a director of Sevco 5088.
Assets were transferred to new company Sevco Scotland days after the £5.5 million purchase in June which became The Rangers Football Club, which was listed on the Stock Exchange. Mr Green resigned as chief executive of Rangers last week, conceding that “negative publicity” was damaging the club’s reputation following claims that he had operated in conjunction with the discredited Mr Whyte in the purchase of Rangers’ business and assets from the administrator last year.
The Ibrox club appointed its sports development director Craig Mather as interim chief executive yesterday.
Worthington is led by Doug Ware, a self-described “incisive and energetic businessman”. The Scotsman has learned that Mr Ware himself has links to Mr Whyte in that he used Worthington’s pension fund to lend £3m to Rangers when it was under the control of Mr Whyte in what he claimed was “very advantageous terms”.
Although Mr Ware said the loan was “never completed” the funds were claimed by administrators Duff & Phelps and held in a solicitor’s client account. Mr Ware is now believed to be under pressure to recover the pension funds loans used to lend Rangers cash.
In the Worthington Group accounts from 2012, he wrote that the “recovery of these monies is subject to ongoing legal proceedings” and that its legal team “are confident that the £3m will be recovered, plus interest and costs”.
Rangers is yet to comment on the allegations against Mr Green and Mr Ahmad, but had earlier issued a statement on the Stock Exchange insisting that the claims were “spurious”.
The club also said it is yet to see any evidence of a legal challenge over its ownership.
“In light of the recent media speculation in relation to alleged claims which are purported to have been made by Craig Whyte, Aidan Earley, Law Financial Limited or Worthington Group plc in relation to the ownership or control of Sevco 5088 Limited (“Sevco 5088”), Rangers confirms that no legal claim has been received by Charles Green, Imran Ahmad or the Group,” said the statement. Mr Earley has been described as a business associate of Mr Whyte.
The statement continued: “As none of the allegations that have been made in the press have been substantiated by evidence of any legally enforceable rights and as details of any claim, whilst threatened, have not been received, the company regards any such press commentary and speculation to be highly spurious.”
It added that – contrary to Mr Whyte’s claim – Sevco 5088 was not the acquisition vehicle which purchased the assets of Rangers Football Club.
Craig Whyte is listed as the main director of London-based Law Financial which was registered with Companies House as late as 12 March 2013.
In an announcement to the Stock Exchange last week, Mr Ware said he had paid Mr Whyte £250,000 for a 25 per cent stake in Law Financial, with the option of acquiring the full ownership of Law Financial for £1m.