Glasgow & West Scotland

Ticketus launches legal action against Rangers owner Craig Whyte

Craig Whyte
Image caption Craig Whyte bought Rangers from Sir David Murray for £1

Ticketus has formally launched legal action against Craig Whyte over money owed to it by administration-hit Rangers.

The finance firm purchased tickets from the club at the time of the businessman's takeover last May.

It has been revealed that Mr Whyte gave personal guarantees to Ticketus over the capital issued on the basis of future season ticket sales.

According to a report by administrators the company is owed £26.7m.

Documents from a previous court case showed Ticketus had made two payments to Rangers, one in May last year and one in September, which were worth more than £30m when VAT was added.

The initial payment, worth £24.4m in total, was used by Mr Whyte to pay off the club's bank debt.

He bought Rangers from former owner Sir David Murray last May for £1, taking over his controlling 85% share holding.

A statement from the London-based firm said: "Ticketus today confirms that it has made demand pursuant to the guarantees provided by Craig Whyte and The Rangers FC Group Limited, formerly named Wavetower Limited.

"In addition, demand will be made against Liberty Capital Limited.

"These guarantees form part of the additional protection built into the ticket purchase agreement that Ticketus made with the club in May 2011."

It added: "As previously stated, Ticketus will claim upon these guarantees to recover any potential shortfall in monies owed to Ticketus by the club."

Liberty Capital, which is registered in the British Virgin islands, is Mr Whyte's finance company.

On Friday Rangers' administrators Duff & Phelps said discussions with two bidding parties were "at a very advanced stage".

The group thought to be in pole position to buy the club is fronted by former Sheffield United chief executive Charles Green.

The Blue Knights have withdrawn their bid after their latest offer to take control failed.

Former Rangers director Paul Murray, who led the Blue Knights bid, said time was "running out" for the club and described the current situation as "an absolute crisis".

Panel's findings

Earlier on Friday the Scottish Football Association announced Rangers will have their appeal against a 12-month transfer embargo and a £160,000 fine heard next Wednesday.

The SFA also published details for the judicial panel's initial ruling.

Rangers were handed the transfer ban and fined after being found guilty of five charges relating to their financial affairs and the appointment of Craig Whyte as chairman.

The club claimed it should not be held responsible for the actions of Mr Whyte, but that defence was dismissed as having no legal basis given the established principle of corporate liability.

Image caption Rangers have been in administration since 14 February

The panel concluded that directors and senior managers should have publicly raised concerns over the actions of Mr Whyte, who presided over the non-payment of £13m in tax between May last year and 14 February, when the club went into administration.

The panel's report, written by Gary Allan QC, stated: "Only match fixing in its various forms might be a more serious breach.

"They brought the game into serious disrepute.

"In the case of the non payment of tax the massive extent of the failure and the intentional and calculated manner in which it was carried out aggravated the breach even further."

Invoice claims

The report stated that the panel felt directors and senior managers were "entirely aware" Mr Whyte was engaged in a deliberate programme of non-payment of taxes and non-co-operation with auditors.

It said the club's long-serving financial controller, Ken Olverman, was told in September by Mr Whyte that he was withholding taxes, which at that stage the club could have paid.

The panel said "directors and employees must have known that what was happening within Rangers FC was entirely wrong and illegitimate but they chose to do nothing to bring it to the attention of the public."

The panel heard evidence from former director John McClelland, Mr Olverman, former chief executive Martin Bain and Rangers' head of football administration Andrew Dickson.

The report added that Mr Olverman was contacted by tax officials in August about invoices discovered in the business records of Ticketus.

The report stated that he had no knowledge of the invoices and knew that no sums of money had been received from Ticketus in recent times.

Mr Olverman was later shown invoices but did not recognise them as having been issued by the club.

The report stated: "He was of the view that it appeared as though Clip Art computer processes had been involved in their creation."

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