Before Dave King made his move for shares in Sevco, a South African judge delivered one of the most scathing verdicts on him that I have ever read.
It has become famous as the “glib and shameless liar” verdict.
The soundbites are the least of it.
In that judgement his propensity for lying about all matters, great and small, was laid out in exhaustive detail. He was also accused of evasive behaviour, stalling tactics and withholding information.
Let’s nail a few of the “facts” before we go on, because some of them are not facts at all.
For example, King did not reach a “tax agreement” with SARS.
He, himself, described what happened as a “favourable settlement” and I’ve read it put exactly like that in the media. It is arrant nonsense. This was not an “agreement”, this was a guilty plea. He gave the government an enormous sum of money because the alternative was his going to prison.
Another “fact” that has to be refuted is that this was a simple matter of somebody trying to avoid paying tax.
That’s not even remotely accurate.
It’s time people in the media and elsewhere stopped kidding themselves – and others – about who this guy is and precisely what he was engaged in here. Dave King pled guilty to over 300 criminal charges, including fraud, money laundering, currency and stock manipulation, violation of exchange controls and withholding of evidence. One series of charges against him, dropped as part of the plea deal, related to the falsification of documents and the attempted bribery of officials.
In 2010, a SARS official told the media “Our claim is that King submitted a fraudulent document to court, and tried to corrupt one of our general managers.” This is never reported in the media any longer; like so many other aspects of this guy’s affairs it has been airbrushed from history as if it never happened at all.
Dave King is often referred to as a “Real Rangers Man” because he “invested £20 million” in the club at a time when they were riding high. The SFA and the media have always glossed over that as if there were no major questions in relation to it.
But there are. There always have been.
The fact is, questions should have been asked about Dave King far in advance of the Craig Whyte era.
Back in 2010, South African tax officials were aware – and made UK investigators aware – that the £20 million which he sunk into Ibrox was actually the proceeds of a stock fraud, laundered through the British Virgin Islands and then the Guernsey tax havens. That money did not have a legitimate source; it would not be inaccurate to describe that £20 million “investment” – in exchange for Rangers shares – as outright money laundering.
Dave King had already tainted Scottish football with his past behaviour before getting back onto the board.
This is an undisputed fact, the details are there in his settlement with the South African authorities.
The SFA has accepted, without question, King’s assertions that the money came from two Hong Kong based “Real Rangers Men” but they ought to be well warned that serious doubts exist about the veracity of Dave King’s story, and of the legality of that deal.
This is not a secret.
Keith Jackson, of The Record, had serious doubts about it and he probably still does. I give our hacks a hard time, but if you spend long enough in a newsroom you do develop a nose for a story, and this one had Keith’s twitching like mad.
He was questioning King hard at the time, trying to find out where the South African’s expected millions were, and he was poking around the Hong Kong “investors.” He knew, as other journalist did – and wrote – that one of the two, Andy Ross, had been fined and given a directorship ban by regulators over there for falsifying an audit in December 2014. He may even have looked into their alleged net worth, as others have, and concluded that neither of them would have been able to produce £2.5 million at the drop of a hat, as King claims.
I think that money probably originated in South Africa. So do many others. In fact, the club itself doesn’t even directly deny it; when King brags about the £17 million he and the board have “invested” he always folds that £5 million into the total, although it was supposed to have come from outside the club. He’s telling us the truth for once; he knows there are people questioning this but he doesn’t care because they aren’t the right people.
He was hit with a fine by South African regulators last month.
He’s allegedly terminated the contracts of the club’s management team without just cause.
Ashley maintains that he deliberately manipulated Sevco’s stock price to get control; a claim the Financial Services Authority is investigating with vigour and will produce seismic consequences of its own.
He violated the contract he had with their shirt manufacturers when he refused to allow them to go on sale, in a move he must have known was coming when he signed the deal with them. That they haven’t yet taken him to court for breach of contract or fraud suggests that the parties involved sorted it out amongst themselves behind the scenes; the club will have lost millions in reduced payments.
But it’s the nature of life under this guy; he has no respect for anything.
This is evidenced clearly in the club’s incendiary press releases.
Praising the behaviour of fans who had taken part in a riot.
Justifying their pitch invasion and subsequent violence.
Every inflammatory attack on other clubs or named individuals.
Leaking the medical records of one of its own players …
And now, on top of this, the Takeover Panel is issuing court proceedings for the first time in its history after he blatantly ignored a regulatory order. He has yet to submit audited half-term accounts as required by Financial Fair Play … I could go on.
This is the “back to normality” the media praises and which the SFA pretends isn’t happening at all, because they did this.
They allowed him onto the board and they can hide behind whatever corporate structure excuse that they like; this is the guy who talks about the manager, the players, the financing, the director of football, sets the targets, and conducts much of the media strategy; Dave King runs Sevco, it’s a black and white undisputed fact and whatever sham they came up with between them to make it “look good” is crumbling to dust.
They were warned he was not a “fit and proper person.”
They were warned that Whyte wasn’t. That Green wasn’t. Murray himself wasn’t, but for years that, too, was ignored.
And why should it not be?
There were people at the top of the house at the SFA who weren’t “fit and proper people” either and some of them remain there to this day.
David Murray’s reckless behaviour, his flaunting of rules, his acts of concealment, drove Rangers to the wall.
Craig Whyte was waved through the Ibrox doors in spite of a dodgy history and no visible means of supporting the club.
The SFA allowed it.
The liquidation scam that followed will have ramifications for years.
Charles Green, who emerged from nowhere, had links to Whyte that the Internet Bampots had exposed within weeks. It took two years for the SFA to catch up and their response was the disgrace of Pinsent Mason, where the club was allowed to “investigate itself” and report back to them.
They watched from the side-lines as Green produced a shares prospectus that was a tissue of lies, selling stuff he might not even legally have owned.
The SFA never did get to the bottom of the Sevco 5088 – Sevco Scotland switcheroo, did they?
How hard did they try? Was it, as I suggested in the Fields article I referenced earlier, that when it came to these guys it wasn’t so much the questions they asked and they answers they got as the questions they knew shouldn’t be asked at all, in order to give the appearance of all being well?
All of it went on right before their eyes and they did nothing.
But they knew, as we all knew, that Sevco was being run by bad people for their own purposes. And we told people that at the time and have been doing it ever since. None of this was done in the shadows. It was all out there, in public, where anyone could see it.
Every single thing the Internet Bampots said about Murray’s running of the club, about Whyte, and then Green after him was on the money.
We called it, in every instance.
And we said that Dave King was a man no person on Earth could trust, as if that needed to be said at all, because nothing we predicted was ever half as severe as what a South African judge wrote about him, and whose words have echoed through this whole situation from Day 1.
That man should never have been allowed near our game.
The Dave King era will end the way it began; in the scandal of stock manipulation, irregular conduct, lies to officialdom and finally resignation.
When he’s gone, and when he’s levelled the club’s business plan and cut from underneath the current board the whole underpinning of it and wrecked their chances of getting back a penny of what they’ve sunk in, Regan might – just might – do a nice wee press conference where he expresses regret and talks of lessons learned.
But they were never learned after Murray or Whyte or Green.
Regan himself has developed a reputation for being somewhat glib and shameless.
In light of what’s engulfing Ibrox right now, he ought to be hiding under the bed, and maybe he is because neither sight nor sound has been detected of him for the whole month in which King was legally obliged to make the share offer after the Takeover Panel appeal board had issued their own damning verdict about his delaying tactics, obfuscation, denial and covering up. All this whilst on the Ibrox board.
The SFA claims to have conducted a rigorous vetting process on this guy – an “unprecedented” one – because of his background. His background was why no such process was required. During the course of it they claim to have been impressed and pleased by his conduct and his willingness to give them everything they required. If that’s true it’s the first time in his life that he has gone in front of a regulatory body and told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Or is it?
Ashley has long said that the SFA’s internal report on King and how they arrived at the decision should be made public. He himself saw it; he won the court case to get access to it, in another case where the media spun it as a victory for the South African which was no such thing at all.
That report should be made public now. King has disgraced our national sport with his conduct here and we’re entitled to know why he was ever granted a seat on the board.
Regan has scandalously abrogated his responsibilities to this sport.
I cannot imagine what reasons our clubs have for keeping the faith was someone so egregiously unfit for office.
That’s a question they ought to be asking themselves over the course of the next few days and weeks.
And by their actions – or inactions – those buying season tickets can judge them.