Late last night (Friday) the following statement appeared on the Rangers official website. You can read it in situ here.
I have posted my comments in bold and indented beneath the relevant parts of the statement. I then end with a brief (yes, I know what you are thinking) conclusion.
Before I start, it is headed “Charles Green Statement” and then, as readers will see, is actually by a “spokesman” for Mr Green. It is not billed as a “Rangers Statement”. Might that be significant?
FOLLOWING the publication and broadcast of misleading and inaccurate information on STV this evening, a spokesman for Charles Green said: “Mr Green is appalled by this blatant attempt to discredit him.
A hard-hitting start. The information broadcast by STV was “misleading and inaccurate”. I am sure the statement will tell us in what ways.
The days when some were concerned that a proposed commercial relationship with STV might compromise its coverage of the team seem a long time ago now. To be fair, the STV News team have been at the forefront of many of the breaking news stories regarding Rangers for some time now.
The spokesman tells us that Mr Green is appalled. I have no doubt that he is.
If the allegations are true, then no wonder he is appalled at the story getting out.
If however this is a vile attempt to besmirch a businessman out only to preserve a Scottish institution, then he is right to be appalled by this vile calumny.
As far as being a “blatant attempt to discredit him” …
Some on Twitter have pointed out that he has been doing a good enough job of that himself in recent times, including his “Paki” comment regarding Mr Ahmad.
“These documents are not correct or valid and he did not sign Craig Whyte or his associate on as directors of Sevco 5088.
The documents are not “correct or valid”. If they were forged, as has already been floated on the internet as a theory, then one would expect the statement to say so. After all Mr Green has already threatened to sue Mr Whyte. He can’t surely be afraid of Mr Whyte suing him for defamation!
And, as we have seen with Orlit Enterprises, Mr Green did not shirk from referring to someone with whom he is in dispute as “terrorists” and “blackmailers”.
This therefore leads me to believe that Mr Green is not denying the documents are genuine. Rather he is objecting to how they are being used.
How could the documents be genuine but not “correct or valid”? Simple. If they had been signed and their use was to be conditional upon certain events which have not taken place, they would cease to be “valid or correct”.
If the plan in early May 2012, for example, was for a CVA to work, and for Sevco 5088 Ltd to take over Rangers Football Club PLC (as it then was) and to own it which in turn owned the football team, the stage might have been set for Mr Whyte’s appointment once the new structure was put in place. And, notwithstanding his ban from Scottish football, Mr Whyte might have argued that a role in the company which owned the company which owned the football team assets was not a close enough connection for the ban to apply. (That is speculation on my part.)
In any event the CVA was rejected and Sevco Scotland Ltd acquired the assets, in some way. Therefore Sevco 5088 Ltd became redundant and any corporate changes which were planned were no longer necessary.
The documents which were to be registered when certain events happened became incorrect and invalid as the conditions were not fulfilled.
Why, after all, bother to become a director of a limited company which is not trading and which has applied to be struck off the Register?
As regards the forms, it is not uncommon for paperwork regarding company changes to be completed, signed and retained. Whilst the Companies Act 2006 lays down timetables for lodging documents regarding changes, these are rarely applied. In addition Companies House will not reject a form because it was submitted late. This applies to share transfers as well as to appointments.
So, by implication, as the statement does not say that the documents are false, should we assume that they are genuine? That is not unreasonable logic.
As for Mr Green “not signing on” Messrs Whyte and Earley as Directors, this is strictly true, on the hypothesis I have suggested. Their appointments were conditional on other matters. Those conditions were not fulfilled. Therefore the appointments were never made. Simples.
The desired implication of that comment is that the papers are not genuine. However, as already discussed above, if that was the case, why not say so?
“Mr Green was the sole director of Sevco 5088 until he resigned and became the founder director of Sevco Scotland, formed by Scottish solicitors.
This is wrong.
Mr Green has never resigned as Director of Sevco 5088 Ltd. He is still listed as such. Indeed I understand he applied, through FFW the company lawyers, in December, as Director, for the company to be struck off the Register.
He did not step down from 5088 to join Sevco Scotland Ltd, nor was there any need for him to do so. Quite what the nationality of the lawyers who formed Sevco Scotland Ltd has to do with anything, I do not know.
At the time an explanation was offered that it was decided that a Scottish company should own the assets and thus 5088 was shunted into a siding and replaced by Sevco Scotland.
“If this documentation was correct then, as Sevco 5088 was formed as the initial bid vehicle, the administrators would have been negotiating a sale of the club to a company which had a director who was clearly forbidden from being involved with it.
If the above statement was made against a backdrop of Mr Green denying anything other than meeting Mr Whyte only once and having nothing more to do with him, then it would carry greater weight.
However we know that Messrs Green and Ahmad were in touch with Mr Whyte “stringing him along”. We know that Mr Whyte paid money to Mr Ahmad Mr Ahmad’s mother. We know that Mr Whyte thought he had a role to play in a newco.
You will also notice the reference is to the document being “correct”. Not “genuine”. There is no reference to forgery.
“Furthermore, it should strike people as deeply suspicious that these documents are being filed today 11 months after they were supposedly signed and on other documents Mr Green’s home address has been mysteriously changed without his knowledge.
As I mentioned in my last post, I think the filing of these papers now is designed to inflict damage on Mr Green. It is “Mr Whyte’s Revenge”.
That does not mean they are false.
If Mr Whyte’s motive is greed, as is implied, then how does it help him to go to Companies House to register as a director of a non-trading company on the verge of being struck off? And in that scenario, why would he forge documents or signatures. It does not add up.
And, as Mr Whyte has clearly been in touch with some media outlets, why would he take the risk of actually sending papers to Companies House, rather than simply showing them to the media.
Let’s say that, hypothetically, the documents were forged. It would still amount to a criminal offence to pass them round the media and to publicise them, as well as opening the person responsible up to civil action. But why, in that case, take the risk of sending them to Companies House?
There officials are meant to ensure that documents lodged are genuine (although I suspect that the number of items they receive makes such checks nominal at best).
Lodging false official documents would significantly aggravate any offence relating to forgery or fraud.
Lodging papers when the conditions under which they were to be activated have not been fulfilled might well give rise to civil action, but would not, in my view, amount to a crime (or if it was, at a far less serious level than that of using forged papers).
It is not for Companies House to make enquiries, whenever papers are lodged, into whether all of the terms under which the documents were written have been fulfilled. It is for an aggrieved person to challenge that, administratively with Companies House, or through the courts.
As for the change of address, I think that this, rather than being some evil act by Mr Whyte, might actually have been done in Mr Green’s interests. The latest report from Companies House, which I saw having been generated at 10.30pm last night, disclosed three directors of 5088.
They are Mr Whyte, Mr Earley and Mr Green. However Mr Green’s address is now shown as the Skylines address which is the new Registered Office. It is possible that, conscious that the media and indeed Rangers fans might be all over these papers, Mr Whyte decided that leaving Mr Green’s home address on the forms could be seen as potentially risky or provocative. So the address was changed.
That could be wrong of course and the plan instead was to make sure all Companies House papers regarding 5088 went to Mr Whyte. We would need him to explain.
“Furthermore, notice was filed publicly in January this year by Field Fisher Waterhouse and is on record at Companies House company seeking to strike off the company, yet four months later directors appointments are now being supposedly filed.
FFW were initially instructed, it seems, by Mr Whyte. Then Mr Green took over.
Again the implication is that the documents are false, but the statement refrains from saying so.
“As stated previously these matters are now in the hands of lawyers who are preparing a file to be sent to Police Scotland and Mr Green cannot comment further on the details of that process.”
END OF STATEMENT
If it was Mr Green’s position that the documents revealed by STV were forged, this would not have been “as previously stated”. After all, these papers have only just appeared.
The statement also suggests that, in some way, the preparation of papers to go to the police prevents Mr Green from commenting. Well, clearly it does not! After all, what is this statement but his comments, even if voiced for him by a “spokesman”?
If Mr Green is, as he seeks to imply, an innocent man who is being attacked by the media and Mr Whyte using forged papers to destroy his reputation, then he has every right to make a lot of noise about what is taking place.
In addition, he ought to be off to the Court first thing on Monday with actions for damages raised, and interdicts threatened in connection with these defamatory broadcasts.
Last week he and Mr Ahmad threatened action against Mr Whyte. As far as I am aware no summonses have been served.
It looks to me, as an outside observer, that Mr Green is fire-fighting. It is not a matter of accepting that Mr Whyte’s allegations about his deal with Mr Green is accurate or not.
What is clear is that, UNLESS IT IS MR GREEN’S POSITION THAT THESE DOCUMENTS ARE FORGED, he had a far closer business relationship with Mr Whyte than he has previously revealed, either in public or to his Board (as per the statements of Walter Smith this week).
In the context of May 2012 he needed such a relationship – after all, if a CVA had worked, Mr Whyte, through his company, would have been 85% owner of the rescued oldco.
But all of Mr Green’s discussion of Mr Whyte, dating back to May last year, has been of a most disparaging nature, undoubtedly based on his assessment that any dealings with the former owner could well have further soured the views of Rangers fans towards him. After all, when he first appeared publicly on the scene, a prominent Rangers-supporting writer repeatedly referred to him as a “snake-oil salesman”. Perhaps Mr Green felt that not all of his customers would have appreciated the business necessity for dealing with Mr Whyte in a business-like manner, and he felt it best to minimise their connections as much as possible.
None of that however would have been inclined to make Mr Whyte a fan of Mr Green and, following Mr Green’s rejection of Mr Whyte’s plea for recompense, what does Craig Whyte have to lose?
Where does this leave matters?
I think what we can glean from it is the following.
Mr Green is NOT alleging that the papers have been forged. He neither specifically says that nor does his comment about the home address being changed suggest that. After all, if the papers were forged then there would be no question of details being “changed”.
The papers were completed by Messrs Green and Whyte conditional on certain matters happening – presumably Mr Whyte coming up with cash, and the CVA being accepted. Those events did not happen so the papers became redundant.
There may well be matters about which Mr Green thinks he should be reporting Mr Whyte to the police. If forgery was one of them then I suspect we would have heard most clearly about that. We have not.
Ironically, as has been the lesson from Watergate onwards, it is often not the initial “offence” which is the problem, but the subsequent efforts to cover it up. (My use of the word offence is not intended to convey implications of criminality in this instance.)
Mr Green had to deal, however unpalatable it was for him, with Mr Whyte whilst a CVA was possible. He judged, it seems clear, that admitting this in the early (no pun intended) days of his involvement at Rangers would damage him, so he spun the line about only one meeting – no prior contact – and giving Mr Whyte £1 from his pocket so he could make a 100% profit.
That approach helped establish his credentials with his customers as a person who would not consort with the previous regime.
However, once he went down that road, there was always the danger that something would happen to expose his dealings with Mr Whyte. It is ironic that exposure of these matters could be damaging, when the dealings were, as far as one can see, entirely legitimate, and indeed essential!
Maybe a wise PR man might have suggested gradually revealing Mr Whyte’s involvement, whilst re-assuring the customers that that route had closed when the CVA failed, and explaining why it had to be done for the sake of saving Rangers.
But either that was never suggested, or if it was, Mr Green decided not to follow that advice.
So now we come to the bizarre situation where the leaks about the Whyte/Green dealings are corroding the goodwill the Yorkshireman had created, like sulphuric acid on a biscuit.
And having embarked on the route he has, a U-turn becomes impossible.
Will this be Mr Green’s last comment on the matter? I very much doubt it!
Posted by Paul “Burt Campbell” McConville
(The above reference will make sense to those of a certain vintage – no prizes, but lots of kudos, for the first person to mention it in the comments!)