Glasgow & West Scotland

Duff and Phelps cleared over conflict in Rangers administration

Duff and Phelps
Image caption David Whitehouse and Paul Clark were appointed as joint administrators

The firm which acted as administrators for the former Rangers Football Club has been cleared of any conflict of interest over its appointment.

Complaints about the role of Duff and Phelps were made to the Insolvency Practitioners Association (IPA).

These came after a BBC film highlighted previous dealings between the firm and Rangers' then owner, Craig Whyte.

After a "thorough investigation" the IPA said it concluded Duff and Phelps "complied with the relevant guidance".

The BBC understands that the role of Duff and Phelps during the administration, alongside other aspects of events which led to the financial collapse of the club, remains under active investigation by the liquidators, BDO.

Rangers was forced into administration on 14 February last year by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over non-payment of tax totalling about £14m.

Duff and Phelps' David Whitehouse and Paul Clark were appointed as joint administrators.

BBC documentary

In May 2012, BBC Scotland broadcast the documentary Rangers: The Men Who Sold The Jerseys.

The programme raised questions over a possible conflict of interest for Rangers' administrators.

These centred on a controversial deal Mr Whyte had entered into with London finance firm Ticketus to help fund his purchase of the club.

Although Mr Whyte paid £1 to buy the club from former owner Sir David Murray in May 2011, the Ticketus deal supplied money to clear the club's debt to Lloyds Bank.

David Grier, a senior partner from Duff and Phelps, said he was unaware until August 2011 that Ticketus had helped fund Mr Whyte's purchase of the club.

The BBC programme broadcast emails which appeared to show that he knew a deal was under way in April, before Mr Whyte's takeover was complete.

The documentary also raised questions over whether it was appropriate for Duff and Phelps to accept the appointment of administrators, given the nature of the firm's relationship with Mr Whyte.

A number of complaints about Duff and Phelps' appointment were subsequently made to the IPA - the professional body which licenses insolvency practitioners.

It has now found that Duff and Phelps was not conflicted in accepting the appointment as Rangers' administrators.

Disciplinary investigation

In a statement, the IPA said: "The investigation committee of the Insolvency Practitioners Association has advised complainants of the outcome of the disciplinary investigation into Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, partners of Duff and Phelps and the former joint administrators of Rangers Football Club Plc.

"The complaints centred on whether the insolvency practitioners were in breach of the insolvency profession's code of ethics when accepting their appointment.

"The investigation committee, made up of independent practitioners and lay members, has, over the past 13 months, carried out a thorough investigation of the administration of Rangers Football Club and the actions of the joint administrators in agreeing to accept the appointment and has concluded that the practitioners complied with the relevant guidance and legislation."

Duff and Phelps declined to comment on the IPA's ruling.

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