Court Told Craig Whyte 'Dishonest About Funding'

1 June 2017, 14:43

High Court in Glasgow

Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte did not use a ''single penny'' of his own money in his takeover of the club, his trial has been told.

Alex Prentice QC urged jurors to convict the 46-year-old as he summed up the prosecution case at the High Court in Glasgow.

Whyte is accused of acquiring Rangers by fraud in May 2011.

He denies the charge, and another under the Companies Act.

The court has heard the sale was eventually made to Whyte for £1, but came with a number of financial obligations, including the clearing of a large bank debt.

The Crown alleges Whyte pretended to then owner Sir David Murray that funds were ''immediately available'' on an ''unconditional basis'' to make all required payments for a controlling and majority stake in the Glasgow club.

Mr Prentice said the accused, and his Wavetower company, did not have authority over the funds used in the takeover which amounted to £1 million from finance company Merchant Turnaround, around £3 million from the Jerome Group pension fund and £24 million from ticketing firm Ticketus.

The advocate depute said: ''A fraud involves a false pretence, dishonesty made, in order to bring about some definite practical result.

''Mr Whyte made dishonest representations to Murray (the Murray Group) that he had the funds to complete the transaction as at May 6.

''The Crown says Mr Whyte bought Rangers Football Club without a single penny of his own, but with money he was not entitled to.''

Mr Prentice told the jury Whyte took ''active steps'' to ensure the Ticketus deal - a loan taken against a percentage of the club's future season ticket sales - was not revealed to Murray and the accused gave the impression the funds were coming from himself.

He said: ''If Murray had known the true position it would not have sold the shares, and you have evidence of that.

''That is the fraud.''

He said evidence from Sir David and Murray Group employees showed they would not have approved the deal if they were aware of the Ticketus funding.

''If we accept the evidence, we can accept Mr Whyte knew this was never going to run and took steps to conceal it,'' Mr Prentice said.

The prosecution lawyer said the trial was not a public inquiry into the corporate governance of Rangers and there was an ''incomplete picture'' to complete such a task.

He said there was ''no doubt there were troubling times for the club'' but that it was working within its limits.

On the second charge, the advocate depute said it was an offence under the Companies Act for the resources of a company to be used in its acquisition.

Summing up the Crown's position, he said: ''The money used to pay the bank debt was Ticketus money, which became the club's money.

''He then arranged a loan to Wavetower to pay the debt.

''That, ladies and gentlemen, amounts to financial assistance.''

Mr Prentice said the case was ''relatively simple'' and ''false representation induced Murray to do something it otherwise would not have done''.

Defence QC Donald Findlay is to sum up the defence case on Friday, with jurors expected to be given directions by judge Lady Stacey next week before they retire to consider their verdict.