Jury selected in fraud trial of former Rangers owner

Craig Whyte
Craig Whyte

Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte has gone on trial accused of a fraudulent acquisition of the club.

The 46-year-old faces two charges relating to the 2011 purchase, one of fraud and another under the Companies Act.

It is alleged Mr Whyte pretended to then Rangers owner Sir David Murray, and others, that funds were available to make all required payments to acquire a “controlling and majority stake” in the club – including clearing an £18 million bank debt, £2.8 million for the “small tax case” liability, a £1.7 million health and safety liability and £5 million for the playing squad.

The Crown alleges Mr Whyte had only £4 million available from two sources at the time but took out a £24 million loan from Ticketus against three years of future season ticket sales “which was held subject to an agreement or agreements being entered into between the club and Ticketus after said acquisition”.

The second charge under the Companies Act centres on the £18 million payment between Mr Whyte’s Wavetower company and Rangers to clear a Bank of Scotland debt.

Mr Whyte has pleaded not guilty to both allegations.

He went on trial at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday after a jury of eight men and seven women was selected.

Judge Lady Stacey asked the jury to consider if they knew anyone involved in the case or if they had been a Rangers season ticket holder, shareholder or bondholder at the time in question.

After a short adjournment to consider the point, no jurors had to be replaced.

The judge said it was expected to be a long trial and that “it is important to keep an open mind until you have heard all the evidence”.

The first witness is due to give evidence in the case today.