Reading today’s excellent Leggoland blog - www.davidleggat.com - I was struck by the thought that we now have so many pieces of evidence of wrongdoing during the Craig Whyte regime that it’s difficult to step back and look at how he got in control of the club in the first place.
Everyone can make mistakes but it does seem to me that the number of mistakes piled on top of one another would make a man less charitable of his fellow man’s faults to begin to wonder.
Let’s start with Sir David - at one time Scotland’s richest self-made man - the hero of an epic story of success and physical courage and our long-time Custodian, long-serving and most successful Chairman in the history of the club. Sir David told us time and again he wanted to build a family dynasty, then the story changed and he would only hand on the club to a safe pair of hands. How could this captain of industry deliver us into the hands of someone who appears to rival the Yorkshire Ripper in the safety stakes?
This wee website researched Craig Whyte as far as our resources would allow - his directorships were relatively small in number (certainly compared with the 138-odd Sir David has) and what we found was one or two were held in medium-sized businesses and the rest in small or dormant ones. It is of course possible that he amassed tens or millions of pounds in trading during his years in exile in Monaco but being a monolingualist and the UK being the 4th largest economy in the world one would expect a rather more substantial paper-trail in the land of his birth.
It is possible too that he did accumulate wealth and chose for perfectly sensible reasons to store it in the British Virgin Islands where his Liberty Capital company is headquartered. Yet even the dimmest of us know the BVI is chosen as a financial bolt holt for its tight secrecy laws as much as its low-tax environment.
The very obvious question then follows - if publicly available records show no sign whatsoever that Craig Whyte had the wherewithal to fund Rangers in the manner to which we have become accustomed over the last 20 years - a roughly £5million subsidy from Murray, Dave King, Joe Lewis et al - what proof of funds did SIr David and his advisors see to convince them Whyte has a safe pair of hands?
And further - did the bank conduct due diligence themselves or just take it on the nod from Murray International’s lawyers that Whyte had passed the test?
The bank themselves will have to answer a separate set of questions regarding their behaviour - what will the correspondence between the bank and 9 Charlotte Square reveal to the question of Sir David jumping to sell Rangers to Whyte or whether he was pushed by a bank desperate to get a measly £18million of manageable overdraft off their books and hang the consequences for one of Scotland’s great institutions?
Donald Muir - corporate recover specialist or messenger boy? Ah, Donald, where are you now? Could you, dear reader, keep up with whether he was a Murray International man, or the bank’s man or foisted on MIH by the bank to direct MIH by remote control? Were the Gruesome Twosome of Ellis and Whyte really the only two candidates to own the club the bank and MIH could find after supposedly appointing two merchant banks to scour the globe for a new owner for the club?
Yet, now we are supposed to take credibly the idea that this triumvirate of MIH, bank and Muir properly sought out and found the source of Craig WHyte’s wealth and the income streams that would sustain the club only to find nine months later that the cupboard was bare?
SIr David’s own corporate house gives us an idea of how things should have been with Craig Whyte and the standard of records one would expect to have seen presented - 9 Charlotte Square is the HQ for over 100 companies in the Murray empire and all, whatever Sir David’s other faults, have annual accounts produced by reputable accountancy firms stretching back up to 40 years. You can follow SDM’s business career through the public records. Why would he or the bank expect any less a standard from Craig Whyte?
The first task for the administrators, police and the regulatory authorities I would suggest is to examine the due diligence process and whether or not it was credible. And if blind eyes appear to have been turned then I expect jail for the lot of them as co-conspirators.