David King insists he can get Rangers back on track

Directors address the Rangers AGM
Directors address the Rangers AGM

Rangers shareholder Dave King insists a South African tax controversy will not scupper his attempt to wrestle power from the Ibrox board.

The former oldco Rangers director - who has called a general meeting to force out the four directors - was forced to pay the South African Revenue Services £44million last year after admitting 41 tax offences.

However, it has been reported that he could end up in further trouble after the South African government reopened a number of cases after uncovering a spying scandal.

The Castlemilk-born millionaire, however, insists his case is closed and he is free to conduct business with Rangers.

It is understood the Johannesburg-based executive chairman of public-listed company MICROmega is confident he will be free to join the plc board of Rangers after receiving a letter from SARS chiefs which declares he is not disqualified from serving as a company director.

And King - who will jet back to Scotland early next month - insists he is now ready to commit his time and resources to the fight for control at Rangers.

He said in a statement given to Press Association Sport: “There has been media coverage in the UK following a report in the South African Sunday Times that dealt with the suspension of senior managers of the South African Revenue Services (SARS) for allegedly operating a rogue intelligence unit that spied on senior politicians and businessmen. I am named in the report as one of the business people who was spied on.

“It was suggested in the Sunday Times report that this unlawful activity by SARS could put many of the recently concluded tax settlements at risk - mine included. This is an obvious conclusion for the journalist to reach. If SARS obtained information unlawfully and such information was used to coerce settlement with me (or any other taxpayer) then I could apply to have my settlement set aside. According to my advice that is the correct legal position.”

King, who would also have to persuade the Scottish Football Association of his suitability to join the Ibrox board, added: “I will not be making an application to have my settlement reviewed and/or set aside for two reasons:

“First, my settlement resulted from prolonged and robust litigation that was fully in the public arena. There was no information produced or used by SARS that was unlawfully gained and, in my opinion, the individuals I dealt with at SARS acted in good faith - both during and after my settlement negotiations. I consequently have no legal basis to argue for the review and setting aside of my settlement.

“And secondly, even if my legal team could make out a case for review I would not pursue it. I am happy with the settlement and the opportunity this created for me to lead a normal business and personal life. My business interests have performed very strongly post-settlement with the SA government by far my largest customer. I am also able to enjoy my role as executive chairman of a public company without the integrity issues that previously dogged me.

“Importantly, I also now have sufficient time and resources to invest in getting Rangers back on track.”

King’s announcement came on a typically busy day of manoeuvring in the Ibrox power struggle.

The board is days away from needing a major injection of cash to pay wages, although it lightened the burden very slightly by announcing that midfielder Arnold Peralta’s contract had been “terminated by mutual consent”.

The Honduras international signed a four-year contract in the summer of 2013 but made only 24 appearances and scored one goal, and was increasingly peripheral in recent months.

The board has two loan offers on the table, one from Mike Ashley and the other from the Three Bears - George Letham, George Taylor and Douglas Park - and the Newcastle owner’s bid for security over Ibrox and Murray Park suggests he is in pole position to have his offer accepted, and thus strengthen his grip on power at Ibrox.

However, Rangers fans are increasingly joining forces to prevent that scenario taking place.

The Rangers Fans Fighting Fund, which was set up to provide financial support to Rangers when they went into administration in 2012, announced it would back the Rangers Supporters Trust’s legal moves to block the move, which emerged last week after Ashley filed papers with land register officials.

A statement from the fund read: “Ibrox, in our view, is sacrosanct. It is a memorial to the 66 who lost their lives (in the Ibrox Disaster).

“Rangers fans donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Fighting Fund during the administration process when their club was at risk and it appears our major assets are at risk once again.

“Now, more than ever, we need the Rangers fan base to unite with the collective goal of protecting our assets and taking the club forward.”

Elsewhere, football club chairman Sandy Easdale claimed police were investigating threats made against him.