Businessman who tried to buy Rangers is jailed
Paul MacKenzie, 43, was jailed by the Court of Session yesterday for a breaking a legal order which prevented him setting up a business to compete against his old company.
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The former millionaire broke the terms of a severance package put in place by the American firm that took over his Kilmarnock-based debt-recovery enterprise.
He then repeatedly ignored an interdict obtained from the court which ordered him to stop competing against MacKenzie Hall Holdings.
The court heard that, on one occasion, MacKenzie disclosed confidential information about his old business.
Judge Lord Doherty heard MacKenzie had a gambling addiction which had caused him to fritter away his multi-million-pound fortune.
The court also heard MacKenzie, who once owned two houses on the island of Cape Verde, was now living on benefits.
Defence advocate George Gebbie pleaded against a jail term. But the judge said MacKenzie’s disregard for the law was “wilful”and “calculated” and that he had no option but to send him to jail. MacKenzie arrived in court carrying a holdall containing his possessions.
Lord Doherty told MacKenzie: “These breaches demonstrated a wilful defiance of the court’s orders and a disregard for the consequences which your conduct would be likely to have on the petitioners.
“I consider the breaches to be very serious indeed. I am clear that only a prison sentence would adequately mark the gravity and circumstances of the breaches.”
The entrepreneur first hit the headlines for his role in the Blue Knights group which tried and failed to buy the Ibrox club in 2012.
MacKenzie had accumulated a fortune from working in the debt-recollection industry.
But his luck ran out after his business was bought by a US-based tycoon.
In November 2014, Lord Doherty ordered MacKenzie to hand over £6.5 million to the owners of his old firm. He was ordered to part with the cash after sending a “dodgy” sicknote to a judge in a bid to avoid appearing in court.
In a written judgment issued at the Court of Session in Edinburgh yesterday, Lord Doherty also ruled the note invalid.
He said: “While I recognise the sum sued for is a very large one, the defender has only himself to blame for not appearing.”
MacKenzie sold the shares in his business for more than £10m in January 2012.
But the judge said he admitted he had now lost most of that “through spread betting on the financial markets and through gambling”.
Yesterday, his defence counsel Mr Gebbie said his client was a gambling addict and was receiving medical help for depression.
He added: “Although Mr MacKenzie achieved limited success at school, he achieved considerable success in business – he managed a multi-million pound business. However, he has now lost that fortune. He is now on benefits.
“Having been a man who was worth millions, he is now a man who finds himself needing the assistance of the state.
“He has a problem with a gambling addiction.
“He has an addictive personality and he is receiving treatment for depression.”
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