Duff & Phelps trio arrested over alleged ‘fraudulent’ Rangers takeover

POLICE have arrested four men, including three employees from Duff & Phelps, in relation to the sale of Rangers in 2011.

Paul Clark, David Whitehouse and David Grier, who worked for Duff & Phelps, the firm appointed as Rangers’ administrators, were detained during dawn raids across the UK and were later arrested.

Gary Withey, a solicitor who worked for law firm Collyer Bristow, which represented former Rangers owner Craig Whyte before he bought the club from Sir David Murray for £1 in 2011, has also been arrested. An arrest warrant has been issued for Whyte following an investigation into the club’s sale by Police Scotland.

Police Scotland said: “Four men have been arrested and are presently detained in police custody in connection with the ongoing investigation into the alleged fraudulent acquisition of Rangers FC in 2011.

“Around 6am on Friday, Police Scotland officers, assisted by officers from Thames Valley Police, Cheshire Police and Surrey Police, attended a number of addresses in England and detained four men.”

Marty Dauer, a spokesman for Duff & Phelps, said the firm was aware that three employees in has been detained for questioning in connection with work performed for Rangers.

“This work was commenced while these employees were part of MCR Partners, prior to its acquisition by Duff & Phelps in October of 2011,” said Dauer.

“Duff and Phelps has actively cooperated with all relevant investigating authorities throughout this process. In addition, we have provided thorough reports on our role in the administration of Rangers Football Club to the Court of Session and the Insolvency Practitioners’ Association.”

He added: “Duff & Phelps has performed an internal investigation and commissioned an independent investigation of the related matters. As a result, we believe that our work for Rangers was conscientious, thorough, and properly performed in every respect.”

Clark and Whitehouse from Duff & Phelps were appointed as joint administrators of Rangers on Valentine’s Day 2012 after the club collapsed when it failed to meet PAYE and VAT demands of around £9m owed to HMRC.

The taxman subsequently vetoed a rescue deal that would have seen the club exit administration, which ultimately led to the club being sold to a consortium led by former Sheffield United chairman Charles Green for £5.5m and Rangers resurfacing as a team in the Scottish Third Division.

An investigation into whether Clark and David Whitehouse were conflicted in their role was quashed last year with the pair cleared of any conflicts by the Insolvency Practitioners Association.

The investigation centered around whether the administrators were conflicted in their role because a partner at the firm was understood to have advised the owner of the club on a deal to buy it.

It was alleged in a BBC programme that Duff & Phelps partner David Grier knew about a deal which would see the club hand over three years’ worth of ticket sales to a company called Ticketus.

“Our assignments in this matter were comprehensively examined by the Insolvency Practitioners Association in 2013. The IPA’s review cleared the firm of any wrongdoing or conflict of interest, affirming the position of the firm,” said Dauer.

It was uncovered during the administration that during his tenure at Rangers, Whyte had promised the ticket sales to Ticketus in a deal that would enable him to buy the club. Whyte was later banned from holding company directorships for 15 years by the Insolvency Service.

He was handed the maximum tariff with effect from 21 October “for failing to avoid conflict of interest in the running of the club”. The sanction will run until 20 October 2029.

Liquidators from BDO were appointed to Rangers Oldco and are currently investigating the books to determine whether further repayment can be made to creditors, and to pursue any outstanding debts owed.

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