Glasgow & West Scotland

Rangers fraud trial: Craig Whyte found not guilty

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Media captionCraig Whyte: 'I'm just delighted with the outcome'

Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte has been cleared of taking over the Glasgow football club by fraud in May 2011.

He was acquitted by a jury following a seven-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

The 46-year-old was also found not guilty of a second charge under the Companies Act.

The jury of eight men and seven women took just two hours of deliberations to return not guilty verdicts on both charges.

Following the verdict, the SFA said it would consider pursuing Mr Whyte over a £200,000 fine for bringing the game into disrepute.

The penalty was imposed by the governing body in 2012, but the money was never paid.

Mr Whyte took over Sir David Murray's majority shareholding for £1 in May 2011, while agreeing to take on obligations, which included paying an £18m bank debt and £5m for players.

He was charged with using the club's own money for the deal while claiming the funds were his.

After the verdict, judge Lady Stacey told Mr Whyte: "You have been acquitted and are free to leave the dock."

He thanked the judge and jury before leaving the courtroom.

Ticketus loan

Questioned by reporters as he left the building, he said: "I'm just delighted with the outcome."

During the trial, jurors at the High Court of Glasgow were told how Mr Whyte struck a £1 deal to purchase Sir David Murray's controlling stake at Ibrox.

As well as the £18m bank debt and money for players, Whyte had agreed to provide £2.8m to settle a "small tax case" bill, £1.7m for stadium repairs, and £5m in working capital.

Prosecutors had alleged that Whyte pretended to Sir David, and others, that funds were available to make all required payments.

The jury were told Mr Whyte had only £4m available from two sources at the time, but took out a £24m loan from Ticketus against three years of future Rangers season ticket sales, before he owned the club.

The second charge under the Companies Act centred on the £18m payment between Mr Whyte's Wavetower company and Rangers to clear a bank debt.

Mr Whyte had denied both the charges against him.

His defence QC, Donald Findlay, had earlier told the jury that Mr Whyte had been made to look like a "pantomime villain".

He had said the Murray team had been "more focused" on securing a sale than on checking out the source of the money.

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

He blamed Sir David'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."

The defence QC had also pointed out that there had been "no loss" to Sir David Murray in the buyout.

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