Crown launches criminal investigation into Craig Whyte’s takeover at Rangers

A criminal investigation has been launched into Craig Whyte’s takeover of Rangers last May.

Today (Monday) the Crown Office confirmed it had ordered Strathclyde Police to investigate alleged criminality after inspecting information handed to them by administrators Duff and Phelps.

In a statement, the Crown confirmed the investigation was now under way after Strathclyde Police carried out enquiries into information handed to them by the administrators of Rangers FC plc. Duff and Phelps are due to be replaced in their role in the coming weeks by independent insolvency firm BDO, which will liquidate the club after being chosen by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) following a failure to agree the company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

The Crown stated: “The investigation into alleged criminality follows a preliminary police examination of information passed to them in February this year by the club administrators.

“The Procurator Fiscal for the West of Scotland will now work with Strathclyde Police to fully investigate the acquisition and financial management of Rangers Football Club and any related reports of alleged criminality during that process.”

In its statement, the Crown confirmed it wants the police to look into the “subsequent management” of the Ibrox club following Mr Whyte’s takeover.

Mr Whyte purchased an 85% stake in Rangers from Sir David Murray for £1 in May 2011. He used a £25.3m deal with London firm Ticketus for future season ticket sales to effectively fund his takeover through wiping out the club’s £18m debt to Lloyds Banking Group.

Craig Whyte has denied there was any criminality involved during his takeover and subsequent management of Rangers. When he appointed the administrators on February 14, having made a move to do so at the Court of Session the previous day, the club was £14m in debt to HMRC having not paid any PAYE or VAT in the previous nine months.

The businessman also confirmed last year that he had previously been banned from holding a company directorship for seven years in 2000. He threatened to sue the BBC over a documentary last October that revealed the ban.

Mr Whyte was earlier this year banned for life from holding a position in Scottish football and was also fined £200,000 over various rule breaches, including bringing the game into disrepute. He claimed the punishment procedure carried out by the Scottish FA was a “farce” and that he would not pay the fine.