Craig Whyte Banned As Company Director
30 September 2014, 18:25
Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte has been disqualified as a director for 15 years.
The Insolvency Service handed out the maximum ban available under its powers "for failing to avoid conflict of interest in the running of the club''.
Whyte took Rangers into administration in February 2012 and they were consigned to liquidation in the June of that year - just 13 months after he took over the club.
He previously received a seven-year ban as a director in 2000, a fact that did not emerge in the public domain until after he bought a majority stake in Rangers from Sir David Murray's company for £1 in May 2011.
Whyte was cited for causing the Glasgow club to enter into an agreement to "effectively fund the purchase of its own shares''; for conducting the club's affairs without reference to other board directors, "preventing RFC from being subject to proper corporate governance''; and causing the club to fail to comply with its tax obligations.
Murray sold the club to Whyte on the understanding that he would pay off bank debts of about £18 million - but the money came from selling off future season ticket sales.
Whyte removed several directors while others quit in frustration at their exclusion from decision-making and the club ultimately owed £21 million to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, excluding the so-called ``big tax case'' that preceded his takeover, when they were consigned to liquidation.
Whyte was involved in attempts to complete an assets purchase of the doomed club but found himself sidelined by Charles Green's consortium, who relaunched Rangers as a new company in the bottom tier of Scottish football in June 2012. Financial problems continue to dog the Ibrox club.
UK business minister Jo Swinson said: "The court has disqualified Craig Whyte for 15 years for the harm he caused to Rangers Football Club, and to the many football fans who believed in his promises.
"Mr Whyte bought a much-loved club and promised fans that he would provide further cash to bring success.
"However, he caused the club to use this money to fund the purchase of its own shares, reducing funds for investment.
"He also failed to consult other directors on important decisions meaning that his behaviour went unchallenged.
"Such blatant lack of regard for proper corporate behaviour and control does not have a place in modern society.
"Directors have a clear, statutory duty to ensure that their companies are run properly, for the benefit of the creditors, shareholders and, in this case, fans who believed in him.''
Whyte's actions in another of his firms, Tixway UK, were also taken into account by the court, which heard he failed to "maintain or preserve adequate accounting records, or if records were maintained he failed to co-operate with requests to deliver them up''.
The action in the Court of Session in Edinburgh came on the day that Rangers confirmed they had paid back £1.5 million to two shareholders.
George Letham and club chairman Sandy Easdale lent the club money in February and March to meet a cashflow shortage.
The Rangers board recently ran a share issue which brought in just over £3 million.
A statement to the London Stock Exchange read: "Further to the announcement on March 25 2014, the company has repaid the secured short term credit facilities provided by Mr George Letham for the principal amount of £1 million plus interest and by Mr Alexander Easdale for the principal amount (interest free) of £500,000.
"Accordingly the security over Edmiston House and Albion car park properties has been released.
"Mr Letham retains the right to receive a premium payable on the Letham Facility of £45,000 payable in cash on February 23 2015 or at the option of Mr Letham, and subject to the company having all necessary authority, in new ordinary shares of 1p each in the company at any time before February 23 2015.''
Mr Letham previously stated he would seek to convert the £45,000 interest payment into shares.
The announcement came hours after an £853,000 deal was struck to purchase 4,265,000 shares at 20p each - the same value afforded to each share in the recent open offer. The trade represents more than five per cent of the club's shares.