RANGERS director Dave King has expressed interest in investing in a restructured Ibrox side - despite an existing court ban preventing any potential involvement.
By Shaunna Whitters, Angela Haggerty and Matt Coyle
DAVE King is currently subject to a restraining order banning him from dealing with “realisable property” within the UK, raising questions about the legality of any involvement he could have with future investment in the Ibrox side. The restraining order prohibits King from buying anything of value in the UK or from financially backing any individual buying anything of value on his behalf.
The restraining order – which freezes his assets and prevents any significant transactions - was granted at the request of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) while an investigation into King’s tax affairs continues. King faces 322 criminal charges including tax-evasion, money laundering and racketeering and SARS claims it is owed tens of millions of pounds, possibly more, in unpaid tax. King refutes those figures and claims the debt is closer to £3m.
In a statement released on Wednesday King said he would attempt to claim back £20m he invested in the club when he became a director in 2000 and reinvest it in a “restructured” Rangers football club. He claimed he would sue former Rangers owner, Sir David Murray, on the basis he had not disclosed the club’s true financial position when he became involved in the company.
King said: “Other shareholders may feel deceived like I do and wish to take action. David Murray will no doubt argue to the contrary and the merits of this will be dealt with in due course in the appropriate forum.
“For present purposes however, I simply want to advise the fans and fellow shareholders that any benefit I receive from my claim will be fully reinvested into the restructured football club. I remain 100% committed to the Rangers football club and will do whatever I can to advance its interests”.
King, who has lived in South Africa for over 30 years, said he believed liquidation was ‘inevitable’ for the Ibrox club: “I do not believe that there is a reasonable prospect that the company can come out of administration. I believe that liquidation is inevitable.”
In January 2010 King came under fire from SARS after it was alleged he was part of a four-man consortium who had an £18m bid rejected by Lloyds Banking Group in an attempt to buy over the club. The agency said any attempts by King to access funds to mount a takeover bid would be flagged up by the UK authorities as a result of the court order placed on him.
King’s tax affairs were first questioned in 2002 by SARS, and a lengthy dispute has followed with no sign of either side reaching agreement. In 2008, a SARS statement said: “He has acted fraudulently, evaded tax and lied about his income and profits generated since 1990″.
King claims he has been the victim of a witch hunt and accused SARS of hypocrisy and “monumental bungling”.
“Fit and proper”?
King expressed his intention to remain involved in Rangers and said he would approach the SFA regarding scope for any future roles at the club. The SFA’s articles of association state that office bearers with their football clubs must meet their board’s fit and proper criteria.
Regarding the dispute involving King and the South African tax authorities - described as the country’s most drawn out and bitter tax dispute – King said: “In view of my own well-publicised and acrimonious legal disputes with the authorities in South Africa I have taken it upon myself to approach the SFA in that regard in advance of considering an increased role in the club going forward. I will be guided by the SFA’s response in that regard.”
Sir David Murray hit back at the claims made by King and vowed to “vigorously defend” against any legal action taken by the Rangers director.
A spokesman for the Murray Group said: “We note with some interest, and much incredulity, Dave King’s press statement.
“It is difficult to understand his motives, given he has been a director of Rangers Football Club since the year 2000.
“Throughout the period of his directorship, Dave King has attended and participated in regular board meetings, including those approving the annual audited accounts, received board papers quarterly, had full access to the executive management of the club, and been privy to the same detailed financial and commercial information as every other board member.”
Paul Murray bid
In other developments, former Rangers director Paul Murray has announced he will lodge a conditional offer to buy Rangers before the March 16 deadline set by administrator’s Duff and Phelps. Dave King said he would support moves made by Murray to guarantee the club’s future.
“In the interim I will be putting my full support behind Paul Murray’s initiative to secure the future of the club. He is exactly the type of man the club needs at this time,” King said.
Rangers entered administration on February 14 and the club is awaiting the result of a tax case with HMRC in which it is alleged it used an Employee Benefit Trust scheme illegally to pay a portion of staff wages without paying tax.
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