The Rangers Tax Case Blog mentions today an article by Roddy Forsyth in the Telegraph where “a source close to Craig Whyte” states that the “wee tax bill” was appealed some time ago. It is understood that this refers to the whole liability, and nit just to the penalty.
I blogged at some length yesterday about what this might mean.
On further reflection, it raises again a question which I asked before regarding the attitude of Mr Whyte and his companies to the courts.
From the Bain v Rangers judgment – 23rd September – Lord Hodge stated, referring to the submissions by counsel for Mr Bain:-
“Thirdly, Rangers faced a claim for about £4 million from HMRC comprising an assessment of about £2.8 million and the balance of interest and penalties. After serving a charge, HMRC had arrested £2.3 million in a bank account of Rangers. Mr Ellis stated that he understood that Rangers had accepted its liability to pay £2.8 million and that it disputed only amount of the interest and penalties.
No reference is made to any response by Mr Napier QC, counsel for Rangers regarding this matter. This was of course the hearing where he had no instructions about the £49 million tax bill!
In deciding the matter of the arrestment, His Lordship commented as follows:-
“In relation to the HMRC claim for £2.8 million and penalties, Mr Whyte’s affidavit suggests that HMRC have been able to arrest £2.3 million in Rangers’ bank account. Discussions are continuing between HMRC and Rangers in relation to the level of penalties imposed. In any event, the purchaser of Rangers has undertaken to pay the debt to HMRC.“
Mr Whyte therefore had personally sworn an affidavit to assist counsel for Rangers in showing that the company was not vergens ad inopiam (on the point of bankruptcy). The affidavit suggests the arrestment trapper £2.3 million. It would seem to be the case that His Lordship’s comments come from the affidavit, rather from any comment by Mr Napier. Therefore, did Craig Whyte swear an affidavit in which he said that the bill would be paid, and that only the penalty was in dispute?
If an appeal against the whole bill had been lodged by that stage, then he would have been misleading a court, and indeed possibly committing perjury!
If not, then the FTT would undoubtedly be asking why the intention to appeal came upon him so suddenly thereafter.
Either he has committed perjury, or his credibility is further damaged (as surely at some point in the months before and after the takeover, he would have taken advice from someone about the validity of the “wee bill”).
On a related matter, I include below an extract from the Tom English Interview with Mr Whyte in the SoS in October, after the BBC programme:-
Q So what about all your cash flow, then?
A The arrestments by Bain and McIntyre don’t help, but we’re fine.
Q No issues about paying your bills?
Q What about your transfer dealings? Lots of players signed but not a high net spend, not the £5m you said it would be?
A It’s a lot higher than people think. Our net spend is about £5.7m or thereabouts. That includes things that people forget about like agents fees and so on.
Q You said you’d invest £5m a season for five seasons, roughly. That £5m was including agents fees and other costs?
A If you’re going to sign players then you have to include the cost associated with it, legal costs, agents costs, all sorts of costs. Of course you have to include the costs.
Q People will always ask how could you think this is a sound venture?
A You can have a proper business model in football but it’s not easy, I’ll give you that. But I also think that Rangers are a huge club with a huge support base worldwide and with tremendous commercial potential that is untapped. Our costs are too high and will have to be reduced. Long-term, we can make this a successful business.
Funny he did not mention the tax arrestment! Nor of course any appeal!