Glasgow & West Scotland

Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte released on bail

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Media captionFormer Rangers owner Craig Whyte was greeted by an angry crowd when he left from the front door of Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte has been released on bail following a court appearance over an alleged fraudulent takeover of the Ibrox club in 2011.

He made no plea or declaration to a charge of being involved in a two-year fraudulent scheme and a second allegation under the Companies Act.

The 43-year-old was granted bail after a 45-minute judicial examination hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

This came 24 hours after he arrived in the UK having been detained in Mexico.

After being granted bail, Mr Whyte left from the front door of the court building amid chaotic scenes.

Surrender his passport

Mr Whyte - sporting a goatee beard and slick back hair - made no comment as police officers ushered him through a large crowd of reporters and cameramen.

A number of angry fans had also turned up outside and yelled abuse as Mr Whyte left in a waiting car.

It also emerged after the hearing that one of Whyte's bail conditions is to surrender his passport.

Mr Whyte bought the club from Sir David Murray for £1 in 2011. Rangers subsequently went into administration in February 2012.

The businessman faced a string of allegations during a private hearing in courtroom number three on Friday.

These included claims he funded a controlling share in Rangers by selling off season tickets - after pretending to then chairman Sir David Murray he had cash of his own.

It is also alleged a failure to pay outstanding VAT and National Insurance payments plunged Rangers into administration.

Image copyright SNS
Image caption Craig Whyte appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court and was granted bail
Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Whyte took over Rangers in May 2011

Mr Whyte's lawyer Paul Kavanagh confirmed his client had been granted bail by Sheriff Andrew Normand. No further court date was set.

The fraud charge Mr Whyte faces span from January 2010 to February 2012.

Legal papers claim he pretended to Sir David Murray and the board of directors that he had "sufficient funds to acquire controlling shareholding" in Rangers.

This is said to have "induced" the board to agree to the sale to Mr Whyte.

He is then accused of pretending he would provide £5m to buy players, that he would pay £2.8m for a tax liability and use £1.7m to settle "agreed capital expenditure".

Ticketus deal

Other allegations listed in the charge include an accusation that Mr Whyte was part of a claim to the Ticketus firm that David Murray was aware the purchase was being funded by selling season tickets.

Ticketus are said to have then entered into an agreement to acquire three years of season tickets.

It is further alleged Mr Whyte pretended to the SFA that he had not been disqualified from being a director leading them to believe he was a "fit and proper person" to take control of a club.

The charge concludes that Mr Whyte got the shareholding by fraud and that he failed to provide contracted funds for the "continued operation" of the club and withheld payment of VAT, PAYE and NI contributions from HMRC.

Image caption (Clockwise from top left) Gary Withey, David Grier, Paul Clark and David Whitehouse

It is said this caused the club to enter into administration.

The second charge under the Companies Act is over a number of days in May 2011.

It is claimed funds from an agreement with Ticketus were used to "to meet obligations as purchaser of the club" - in particular £18.2m was paid to Lloyds Bank.

The charge also states funding of the "acquisition of the controlling shareholding" was made by "selling an asset of the club" - the income from the sale of season tickets."

Mr Whyte was in court after four other men appeared in the dock last week in connection with the case.

David Whitehouse, 49, Paul Clark. 50, David Grier, 53, and 50-year-old Gary Withey also faced a charge of being involved in a fraudulent scheme.

Mr Withey also faced an allegation under the Companies Act.

Mr Grier, Mr Whitehouse and Mr Clark faced an allegation of attempt to pervert the course of justice.

The three were employees of Duff & Phelps, the company which carried out the administration of Rangers.

Mr Withey worked for Mr Whyte's London law firm Collyer Bristow before he took on a post with Rangers.

The four made no plea during their hearing and were bailed pending a future court date.

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