Witnesses in the Rangers Tax Tribunal hearing were assigned a colour cipher. The testimony of Mr Black was particularly revealing. By way of introduction, the Law Lords were provided with the following precis of his career at Rangers:
“While Mr Black had been involved in ‘signing and selling’ 350-400 players in 20 years of involvement at Rangers, he had not, and could not, because of all his commitments, devote any real time to detailed contractual negotiations. At the start of each football season he would meet with his manager to decide on which players might be possible recruits.
Only one individual matches this description. Sir David Murray.
Mr Murray did not consider the Employment Benefit Trusts as a means of tax avoidance, but rather as a means of retaining and rewarding loyal employees. According to Mr Murray the EBT enabled the club to attract players who would not otherwise have been obtainable. During cross examination, Mr Murray denied that the scheme was for tax avoidance. He described the policy as ‘a method of us acquiring, especially football wise, better players in a more cost effective manner than we would be able to do so’; that the club had been ‘very ambitious at that time’; and ‘it was seen as a correct and proper way for us to proceed’; that Rangers ‘have been very successful, because we’ve been able to attract players of a certain standard that, perhaps, we may not have been able to otherwise’.”
This correct and proper way has been ruled as illegal by the highest court in Scotland. Not only did Mr Murray introduce an illegal method of tax evasion, he charged Rangers £500,000 per annum for his EBT insights and helped himself to £6.3m.
The Law Lords characterized the testimony of the colour-coded former Rangers executives as “obstructive, unhelpful and evasive.” The Law Lords came to the conclusion that the former Rangers executives engaged in an enterprise to systematically evade tax on an industrial scale.
It follows that as it has been established as illegal in law, it contravened the SFA articles of association. Rangers, by Mr Murray’s admission, engaged in this strategy to gain a sporting advantage. These findings not only rebut the privately commissioned conclusions of Lord Nimmo Smith, but as they are legally binding, they render the LNS report as irrelevant and unsound.
I wonder what colour was assigned to Campbell Ogilvie. Mr Murray’s fellow ‘reservoir dog.’ Red, as an abbreviation for red-handed, would be apposite. Whilst a director of Rangers, Mr Red was the treasurer of the SFA. Should we be thankful that Mr Red did not encourage executives of the SFA to engage in tax evading EBT? If we are we should be far from thankful with the information he withheld and redacted to reduce the LNS report to a travesty.
The problem for Rangers is that since Mr Doncaster has publicly stated that we are the same club, sanctions could be applied to the team under Mr Warburton’s command. A significant points penalty could be imposed. The silverware is in the cross-hairs of four clubs represented on the SPFL board.
Mr Black will soon be giving evidence in the trial of Mr Green and Mr White.
The reservoir dogs that engaged in a heist at Rangers were Messrs Black, Red, Green and White.