We all know that Whyte was born in Motherwell and that he is a Venture Capitalist. However, the media have exaggerated his business wealth with some placing it at around £1 billion. But since he was linked with buying Rangers he has been described as a billionaire, then it was a millionaire and recently he is just a Scottish-based businessman. If you look into his finances, his businesses do not muster more than £7 million in wealth each.
The media then painted the picture of Whyte living the life of luxury in Monaco, before returning to Scotland eight years later, when he paid £720,000 for Castle Grant in Moray.
And that is about it. The media have failed to look into his past, with Moira Gordon of The Scotsman making the excuse that today’s journalists don’t have the time to do any digging into a person’s background. And it is strange how no Business Reporter from any Scottish newspaper has looked at the debt issues surrounding Rangers Football Club. Now why is that?
Whyte allegedly fled Scotland under the shadow of a massive tax investigation, to Monaco which is a tax haven conveniently. With debts of around £4 million, he was living the life of luxury, while his former employees and debtors tried to rebuild their lives and businesses but still adamant that Whyte allegedly owed them money.
He claimed at the time, “I don’t owe anyone any money – least of all the taxman. I know people said I was trying to run away from my problems, but I have nothing whatsoever to hide. I’m too busy getting on with my life to worry about people with an axe to grind. Yes, there were a lot of problems before I left Scotland. The Inland Revenue have not yet informed me if they have finished investigating, but as far as I am concerned, everything was sorted out before I left.”
When Whyte fled to Monaco many of his companies were close to collapse. In 1993 he bought Vital UK Limited and built it up providing services to the construction industry, retail stores and local authorities, but three years later the company went into voluntary liquidation with debts of around £600,000.
A damning report by the liquidators suggested that he had struck a secret deal to transfer the failing company’s assets to the Bahamas. The report also hinted that he had failed to register some of his employees for PAYE tax.
Whyte ended up at the High Court where his legal team admitted that he owed £3.5 million to a single creditor.
A spokesman for the liquidators said, “We have obviously tried to contact Mr Whyte on a number of occasions but we are informed by his lawyer that he is living abroad.”
A spokesman of Vital Holdings at the time, said Mr Whyte was unavailable for comment. The spokesman said he had issued a statement disputing the allegations made against him and declaring his intention to seek legal redress. He added, “I can’t say where Mr Whyte is at the moment, but he is speaking to his solicitors about this.”
While Whyte dodged the bullet, some members of the 700-strong work force from his network of companies protested over unpaid wages. And in a showdown, a number of staff staged a public protest at the company’s offices in Glasgow, with his money men forced to hand over the cash to workers on the spot.
He was also being pursued by a Glasgow woman over an unpaid industrial tribunal award. Still unpaid to this day.
But Whyte recalled later, “There were people who were jealous of me, and were out to get me. I was young and portrayed as successful, and rivals were envious. Everything was sorted out satisfactorily. The claim that I owed £3.5 million was a tactic by my legal team to help my case against people who were pursuing me.”
So Whyte has admitted that his legal team lied in a court of law to help him escape paying debts that he owed. What a great man to take the reigns of Rangers Football Club.
Whyte also rubbished claims that workers went unpaid, describing it as an administrative error. “It was all down to a change in the payroll system,” he says, “It was simply just a misunderstanding.”
Many of Whyte’s staff were members of the GMB Union and a union spokesman said at the time, “It’s an absolute scandal. Our members are struggling to make ends meet, while Craig Whyte has his nose buried in the trough in Monte Carlo.”
When Whyte returned to Scotland he said, “I am debt-free and now own substantial holdings and assets in various parts of the world. There are no outstanding claims against me. I continue to hold property and assets overseas. The Inland Revenue is satisfied with my status and previous claims of debts proved completely false. I have never been declared bankrupt.”
However, where is the evidence to back up his claims that he now owns substantial holdings and assets. In fact, we know very little about Whyte and there is a massive black hole within his finances. All we have is his word and the articles written by certain mainstream media journalists afraid to lose their exclusives from within Ibrox.
Yes, we know that former takeover bidder Andrew Ellis is in cahoots with Whyte to buy Rangers. And we know that he was planning to turn the land across the road from Ibrox into a Shopping Complex similar to Braehead or Silverburn until he realised that the council still owned it after Rangers failed to hand over the £1 for their £700 million Super Casino/Stadium complex.
However there is one name that has not been mentioned along with Whyte and Ellis, and that is Aiden Earley.
There are strong rumours that Earley and Whyte (with Ellis somewhere in there) will split the cost to buy the club 50/50. The deal is that they will buy the club together and share ownership on a ‘sliding scale agreement’ until Whyte has effectively total ownership of the club. He will be the man in front of the cameras, with Earley in the background, as Whyte will be stumping up the transfer kitty for McCoist.
Looking at Earley’s history, he has had past working history with Whyte, which stretches all the way back 12 years from a failed takeover, which merited an official report from the Takeover Panel. He has plenty of other failures on his CV, including being bankrupt at the age of 22.
The takeover panel report mentions both Earley and Whyte – with an interesting quote within it:
“Mr Craig Whyte, Head of Corporate Finance at First Capital, explained to the Executive that the cash would be sourced from discretionary clients of First Capital. Mr Whyte was not, however, able to establish to the satisfaction of the Executive either that the funds were available to First Capital or that all conditions set out in the facility letter of 21 November had been satisfied such that the requisite funds were available to Corporate Resolve. The Executive, therefore, concluded that further assurance was required as to the availability of the cash to satisfy the cash offer in full if the cash offer was to proceed.”
Back to Whyte and the present day.
Whyte is being sued over a £90,000 debt. A writ was served by Glasgow-based McRoberts Solicitors on Whyte’s Tixway firm, at the same time as he was in talks about his Rangers takeover.
His company is being sued by One Stop Roofing, run by Albion Rovers manager Paul Martin.
Martin and fellow company director Robert Jenkins claim that Whyte’s firm ordered £90,000 worth of building materials in June 2009, and has failed to maintain a repayment plan which was thrashed out at the start of this year. To date, only two payments have been made.
Whyte and his estranged wife Kim are the only directors of Tixway, whose company Headquarters is in Bath Street, Glasgow.
A source said, “Martin and Jenkins feel they’ve been very patient and have waited long enough for their cash. The amount of money we’re talking about doesn’t seem like a huge sum for a wealthy businessman – but it is to a small business. No one wanted to start legal proceedings but there appeared to be no other option.
“Martin and Jenkins have tried to get Whyte round the table and sort everything out but it’s proved to be impossible. They are surprised a man who’s buying a football club like Rangers for millions of pounds is not prepared to pay a £90,000 bill.”
However, like his previous debts, Whyte has denied his company owed the money. A spokesman for the serial offender said, “His firm have done business with One Stop Roofing but all bills have been paid in full. Any legal action will be defended robustly.”
Sources claim that Whyte’s firm Tixway UK only got involved after One Stop Roofing refused to supply a firm owned by a friend of Whyte and who share offices with Tixway. One Stop Roofing were reluctant to do business with Snowcast because they could not obtain credit risk insurance against the firm.
Glasgow Sheriff Court has confirmed that a writ against Tixway UK had been served.
However, it now seems that Tixway is in the process of being struck off by Companies House after failing to post accounts for this year. The excuse, that Whyte and his wife have split up. For a company that is supposedly worth over £1 billion, it folds over a domestic? Folds still owing debt to Paul Martin’s company and how many other companies.
Surprising that this has not hit the headlines isn’t it? Especially when any Tom, Dick & Harry can find it within half an hour. Maybe the media don’t want to look deeper into Whyte’s past for fear that they will lose all those exclusives and press releases they call news articles.
But what do we know, as Craig Whyte has said he has done nothing wrong.