Former Glasgow Rangers owner Craig Whyte faces criminal investigation
THE UK Crown Office has ordered a criminal investigation into Craig Whyte's takeover of Rangers and the subsequent financial management of the club.
Rangers went into administration on February 14 and were consigned to liquidation earlier this month.
A statement read: "The Crown Office has today instructed Strathclyde Police to conduct a criminal investigation into the acquisition of Rangers Football Club in May 2011 and the subsequent financial management of the club.
"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."
Whyte bought an 85% shareholding in Rangers for £1 from the Murray Group and made several pledges in terms of future investment and paying off the club's bank debt.
The club was forced into administration following court action from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.
Immediately after being appointed, administrators Duff and Phelps announced the club had failed to pay about £9million in PAYE and VAT since the takeover.
They soon revealed that the club had paid off Lloyds Banking Group from a £24.4million capital injection from investment firm Ticketus, which was secured on the back of future season ticket sales.
The debt to HMRC was most recently listed at more than £21million in the failed Company Voluntary Arrangement proposal to creditors.
Duff and Phelps, who previously launched civil action relating to the takeover against Whyte's former lawyers, Collyer Bristow, welcomed the development.
David Whitehouse, joint administrator, said: "We provided initial documentation to Strathclyde Police very shortly after our appointment as administrators on February 14 and have had a number of conversations with the police since then.
"Both in our role as administrators, and previously in our role as advisors, we have fulfilled all our obligations in keeping relevant authorities informed of any developments pertinent to their jurisdictions.
"As court appointed administrators, we will continue to provide our full assistance in the investigation process and welcome this development."
Duff and Phelps were last week asked by a judge to file a report on allegations that they were in conflict of interest in accepting the role as administrators given senior partner David Grier had advised Whyte during the takeover.
The club's business and assets were sold to a consortium led by former Sheffield United chief executive Charles Green earlier this month.
The chairman Green appointed to head the board of his new club, Malcolm Murray, said: "The rank and file Rangers fans are blameless. Rightly, they want answers and for those responsible for the club's fate in recent times to be held to account.
"Hopefully this investigation will assist in this regard."
Whyte has previously denied any alleged criminality over his takeover.
Speaking in February, he said: I have absolutely nothing to fear because any fair investigation will prove that I have always acted in the best interests of Rangers and been involved in no criminal wrongdoing whatsoever."