Craig Whyte cleared over Rangers fraud case

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Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte has been cleared of a fraudulent takeover of the club.

The jury returned a majority verdict after a six-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Craig Whyte arrives at court. Picture: SNS

Craig Whyte arrives at court. Picture: SNS

Mr Whyte was accused of acquiring Rangers by fraud in May 2011. He denied the charge, and another under the Companies Act.

As he left the court building, he said: “I’m just delighted with the outcome.”

The Crown had alleged the 46-year-old did not have authority over the funds used in the takeover and “induced” the Murray Group to sell, but defence QC Donald Findlay described the accused as “the fall guy” in the case.

Judge Lady Stacey charged the jury on Tuesday morning, telling them to take as much time as required to consider the case.

After just two hours of deliberations, the jury of eight men and seven women returned to court and delivered a not guilty verdict on both charges.

Lady Stacey told Mr Whyte: “You have been acquitted and are free to leave the dock.”

He smiled and thanked the judge and jury before leaving the courtroom, where a small group of people were watching on from the public gallery.

Outside the court, Mr Whyte was booed as he walked to a waiting car. He was questioned by reporters but would only say he was “delighted” with the verdict.

During the trial, the court was told the sale of Rangers was eventually made to Mr Whyte for £1, but came with obligations to pay an £18 million bank debt, a £2.8 million ‘’small tax case’’ bill, £1.7 million for stadium repairs, £5 million for players and £5 million in working capital.

The trial heard Mr Whyte arranged a £24 million loan from financial firm Ticketus against three years of future season ticket sales before he took control of Rangers.

Mr Findlay said his client had met the conditions of the sale by paying the debt and investing in the club.

He blamed then-owner Sir David Murray’s advisers, saying they “let him down very badly” in the deal and did not ask where the takeover money was coming from.

Summing up the defence case, Mr Findlay said: “They were not interested in where the money came from and we know this absolutely categorically.’’

READ MORE: Craig Whyte trial: defence closes without calling witnesses