Ten months ago I wrote the following:
” The ‘fat lady’ of the Supreme Court is not going to sing for you Mr Ferguson. Three distinguished law lords at the inner Court of Session have deliberated carefully and arrived at a conclusion welcomed by every tax-paying citizen in the UK. Why would BDO appeal this decision on your behalf? Which point of law would compel the 7/8 distinguished knights and dames of the realm to sit in judgment? Would you argue that a ruling in Scots Law has no jurisdiction on a Scottish employer? Your disingenuous article in the Daily Record is a sham. We are aware that Traynor and Kerr of Level 5 are flat-out to deal with the fallout of your tax evasion. Did you ask Level 5 to review your copy prior to publication? The sooner you accept the consequences of your illegal tax evasion the better Mr Ferguson. Of course Neil McCann, who is fond of brandishing rule books on television, should be asked whether a side letter on his £500,000 loan should have been registered with the Scottish Football Authority?
Is it not the height of hypocrisy to know the rules but believe they don’t apply to you because you played for Rangers?
How much of your £2.5m are you willing to risk to challenge this ruling on your tax evasion, Mr Ferguson? Surely, if you believe that the directives of the inner court are unlawful you would be prepared to challenge their veracity at The Supreme Court?
Mr Ferguson is a tax evader, just like the current Chairman of RIFC plc, whom he openly supports in his puff pieces in The Daily Record. I trust you have £1.325m in an escrow account or you might be phoning in your Daily Record articles from one of Her Majesty’s Prisons.”
Those wishing to read my original article may do so by searching for The Supreme Court Defence which was published in November of last year. Those who participated in this shoddy tax evasion enterprise should not be celebrated. They should be shamed and derided. They were participants in a £48.35m tax-evading swindle. In 1987 Lester Piggott was jailed for three years for not paying tax on circa £3.25m of undeclared earnings. Ferguson, by contrast, is allowed to dine out on the titles that he won when he was knowingly cheating.
There are many who visit this site, and donate to its upkeep, who ask one simple question:
“When will the titles won by the illegally registered tax evading players and staff be stripped from Rangers?”
I’m indebted to Barcabhoy who published the following table:
During these thirteen seasons Rangers participated in the European Cup, Champions League and UEFA Cup. Their systemic tax evasion culminated in an appearance in the final of the UEFA Cup in May of 2008. The cheating by David Murray, Dave King and Paul Murray was inordinately successful. No-one who is familiar with the criminal career of Dave King would be in any way surprised by his participation in this long con. As a convicted criminal, King was prohibited from being a director in the member club. Paul Murray, who was also complicit in this swindle, and who many believe was a participant in King’s reset of £25,000 of misappropriated data, was permitted to take office. Is it any wonder that Mr Ferguson believed that he would be exempt from taxes given that his fellow EBT recipient, Campbell Ogilvie, was elected to the highest office in the SFA? This sustained unparalleled corruption at the heart of Scottish football was deemed by Bill Smith’s kangaroo court to not have conferred a competitive advantage. Mr Smith posited that since EBT were legal, other Scottish clubs could have cheated in equal measure. You could not make this up.
Andrea Traverso of UEFA stated unequivocally that since Rangers no longer exist, any sanctions would be an exercise in redundancy.Darryl Broadfoot, the C-celebrity Lothario at the SFA , has stated that ‘there is no mechanism for title-stripping.’ This was an uncharacteristically clever statement by Broadfoot. Is he arguing that the SPFL has no jurisdiction on titles won under the auspices of the SPL (1998-2013)? However if we take this argument to its logical conclusion, how can the SPFL list the tainted achievements of Rangers during this period?
Those who follow Scottish football are deemed to be stupefyingly gullible. They’re expected to accept Doncaster’s lies for the good of his skewed version of Scottish football. The LNS Commission was a front for Doncaster’s lies. Its flawed and spurious conclusions arrived at a ‘Continuation Cost’ of only £250,000.
So let me spell this out in language that even the stupefyingly gullible can understand. Any Scottish club, if it so desires, can engage in systemic tax evasion and secrete side-letter contracts from the SFA; win seven league titles and participate in UEFA tournaments for 13 seasons; be subject to liquidation proceedings; and still come out the other end with a £250,000 slap on the wrist and with titles intact. I will add one important caveat. This club must be called Rangers, or a derivation of Rangers.
There are those who believe that when joint-liquidators BDO fail in their ludicrous appeal to The Supreme Court, Peter Lawwell, who has been keeping his powder remarkably dry, will add his voice to an overwhelming consensus to strip titles.Allow me to be the first to disabuse them of this notion. To paraphrase Gil Scott-Heron, whose father played for Celtic, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”
The browbeaten BBC Scotland, and the Rangers-facing STV, will look the other way. The SMSM, who love nothing more than an Old Firm Copy Orgy, will sweep the issue aside with a deft application of Trigger’s Broom. Lawwell’s resolve will melt away like snow on his heated driveway. The fix is in ladies and gentleman. Nothing will be allowed to interfere with the Old Firm Circus. Those who govern Scottish Football, and those entrusted with running our leading clubs, have collectively decided that Rangers are too big to fail and that they can run a coach & horses through the basic precepts of British society. Is it any wonder that many who support the renascent Rangers engage in hate-crime chants of supremacy in the parallel universe of Scottish Football?
BDO believe that their petition will be heard by The Supreme Court in 2017. In my considered opinion, it should not be heard, but I’m mindful of a quote from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist :
If the law supposes that, said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass — a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience.”
There are numerous ‘experiences,’ or case precedents, where EBT have been deemed unlawful. If Mr Ferguson believes he can sue David Murray for damages in professional negligence, he should think again.The law firm led by Paul Baxendale-Walker approached Iain Barker in 1998. Mr Barker was the owner of a profitable management and business software company, who was looking for a scheme that would allow him to make a partial exit from his shareholdings without incurring the associated very large capital gains tax charges.
Baxendale -Walker recommended the use of the EBT scheme under which a sub-trust was set up for each participant, who then gifted their shares into the sub-trust. Although the participant and his family would thereafter be barred from receiving any benefits from the trusts, he would be able to take cash loans from the trusts at a commercial rate of interest, with the interest accumulated and repayable in a lump sum at the end of the loan period. This would entirely avoid the CGT charge on the disposal of his shares. His family could also receive distributions after his death, and the loans could be rolled over to become a debt on his estate, thus reducing its value for inheritance tax purposes.
Mr Baxendale-Walker’s representative discussed the matter of the scheme’s legitimacy with Barker at the time. Mr Barker was given reassurances that the schemes could not be successfully challenged by HMRC. Mr Barker, being a prudent man, sought a second opinion from his tax advisers, his retained solicitors, Hollinshead, who stated in writing:
‘Whilst nobody can rule out possible changes to tax law, it is difficult to see that the Inland Revenue will be in a strong position to mount any meaningful attack on the use of an EBT as described in this opinion’.
Their opinion described the EBT as a bona fide, irrevocable, discretionary trust that gave the participants no power to command the trustees:
In 2010 HMRC issued a substantial assessment against Barker, on the basis that the trust did not attract the tax benefits that could apply to an EBT, because it permitted his family to benefit after his death. The following year HMRC told him they had opened a COP-9 inquiry on the basis that he had acted fraudulently in making incomplete tax returns.Ultimately, Barker came to a settlement with HMRC under which he had to pay more than £11m in tax and interest.
Barker launched a claim against Baxendale-Walker for professional negligence. However justice Roth in the High Court considered that Barker would have gone ahead with the scheme even if he had been properly apprised of the risks. He came to this conclusion because Barker had admitted he knew the scheme constituted ‘aggressive tax avoidance’, and also that he had considered taking up an alternative scheme marketed by Deloitte. Justice Roth gave judgment against Barker (Barker v Baxendale Walker Solicitors, 2016 EWHC 664 Ch, as reported in The Daily Telegraph)
Justice Roth’s judgment could be subject to appeal, but it chimes with the judgment of the three senior law lords in the inner house of The Court of Session. The issue of a side-letter to Ferguson transformed an exercise in aggressive tax-avoidance into an exercise in tax evasion.
Alex McLeish, who also received a generous EBT, contradicted Bill Smith’s assertion that Rangers received no competitive advantage. The following image recalls an event at the height of the EBT scandal:
One could also consider the occasion when an EBT-enhanced Rangers won the title by one goal two seasons earlier when they scored six goals against a supine Dunfermline. Will Neil Doncaster and Stewart Regan be remembered as the latter-day pilot and co-pilot of The EBT Helicopter of Hypocrisy?