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PERSISTENCE BEATS RESI2TANCE: THE MEN IN THE ROOM

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THIS is about the men in the room during significant events in the history of the Wee Tax Case that first saw life as a payment of £150K through a Discount Option Scheme EBT for Craig Moore authorised by Campbell Ogilvie on 3 September 1999, the scheme having been explained to Moore in August 1999.

This preceded a meeting on 10th September by The Rangers Employee Remuneration Planning Committee Chaired by Sir David Murray and attended by Campbell Ogilvie as Secretary and David Odam then Financial Controller, when it was agreed that this strategy of using an ebt to pay Craig Moore would motivate and incentivise him. There was no side agreement, this was a straight one off reward for services.

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In August and November Ronald De Boer and Tor Andre Flo were offered contracts that paid through a similar DOS based trust but with side letters demonstrating there was an intention to put cash in the hands of the players as part of their remuneration.

Campbell Ogilvie played no administrative part after September 1999, but having initiated the first payment by an EBT to a Rangers player and being part of the Remuneration planning Committee who agreed this strategy for remuneration of players he was in the room when Rangers embarked on the EBT trail and established the Rangers Employee Remuneration Trust. (REBT).

In March 2005 HMRC asked Murray International Holdings if Rangers held side arrangements for the above three players. They were told by Mr I McMillan of MIH that no contractual variations or side arrangements were held in the players’ personnel files following his review of them.

However in April 2011 during questioning at the First Tier Tribunal adjudicating on the EBTS paid under the Murray Management Group Remuneration Trust (MMGRT) commonly known as The Big Tax case Mr Andrew Dickson who had been employed at Rangers since 1991 in various capacities revealed at pages 126 to 130 that he was responsible for the EBTS issued under the MMGRT for Rangers players from 2004 and for the files in which paper work was held and that he would have liaised with a player and put the documentation together.

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So either Mr McMillan requested the files from Mr Dickson and stated no letters were held or Mr Dickson checked the files and told Mr McMillan no files were held. It stretches credulity that the files were passed between the two men especially if one was based in Glasgow and the other Edinburgh, rather than one asking the other, with responsibility for the files and what they held, to check if any letters existed in them.

Even if Mr Dickson only supplied the files it stretches credulity past breaking point to believe he did not know why the files for those named players were being asked for by the man who dealt with HMRC.

Thus it is safe to believe that in April 2005 Mr Dickson was in the room with the DOS EBTS and played a part in the denial of the existence of those side letters, especially when by then he had handled a number of ebts with side letters in his capacity as a football administrator.

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In November 2010 HMRC first contacted Rangers about the tax due re Ronald De Boer and Tor Andre Flo demanding payment. One of the reasons HMRC were able to do so since 10 years had elapsed since tax was evaded, was the negligence of Rangers to check in 2000 if the side letters they issued would invalidate the scheme and more importantly possible fraud in 2005 in denying their existence.

In April 2011 Rangers were granted a UEFA licence although liability for the tax due from the DOS EBTs (the Wee Tax Case) was accepted by Rangers on 21st March following QC advice heavily influence by the concealment of side letters from HMRC in 2005.

But for that concealment liability would have been disputed, but more importantly the tax due would have been beyond the normal 6 year limit for collection, but the denial allowed HMRC to pursue.

The licence was granted on 19th April 2011 but in terms of what the SFA knew at 31st March the role of Mr Andrew Dickson in the granting decision needs clarified. He sat on 3 of the four Licensing Committee meetings according to SFA publication and it is not known if he excused himself from the deliberations as required by Committee rules or in fact influenced the committee’s decision.

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The conflict of interest here is apparent in that if Mr Dickson was aware of the documentation and discussion about the DOS EBTs at any time from November 2010, specifically the HMRC letter of 23 November setting out the fraudulent or negligent nature of the transactions then did he pass that information to the Licensing Committee or did he simply excuse himself and say nothing?

Wearing his RFC hat though did he have any responsibility as an administrator at RFC who knew the rules to draw the SFA’s attention to the reasons HMRC were raising a liability in February 2011?

When a similar overdue payables declaration had to be made under Article 66 of UEFA FFP at 30 June by which time a bill dated 20th May had arrived and became overdue by 19th June under the terms it contained, did Mr Dickson not have a responsibility as an RFC officer or an SFA officer to make sure the SFA were aware of the bill’s arrival, especially if the granting was based on a bill not being present at 31st March or any other reason to postpone payment?

How that declaration at 30th June 2011 got past the SFA and UEFA is what Resolution 12 to the Celtic AGM of 2013 is trying to establish whilst acknowledging that the position of the SFA at 31st March in terms of their responsibilities needs clarification from UEFA.

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In December 2011 Mr Regan the SFA CEO, after discussing the UEFA licensing issue with Mr Dickson the previous day, drafted a message to explain the processing of the licence in March/April 2011. Regan sent that draft to – Yes – Andrew Dickson and Ali Russell, Rangers CEO. The reaction was one of consternation at putting focus on an issue no one at Rangers wanted examined and which drew a comment that the SFA might cause issues for themselves as well as Rangers. Mr Russell managed somehow to persuade Mr Regan not to issue the draft and arranged for Mr Regan and Campbell Ogilvie to have lunch with Craig Whyte and himself later that month to discuss other issues.

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Finally in March 2012 Harper MacLeod wrote to Duff and Phelps who had been appointed Rangers Administrators, requesting side letters and ALL other forms of documentation relating to ALL EBTs used by Rangers since 1st July 1998.

Given Mr Dickson’s declared responsibility for the personnel files containing that information the questions is was he in the room when the documentation was being selected for Harper MacLeod?

However whilst the Flo EBT of 23 November was provided, the De Boer letter relating to his EBT was not.

The Commission subsequently changed the SPL date remit to examine all cases from 23 November 2000 as that Flo side letter, which had been mentioned by HMRC counsel during the FTT session with Andrew Dickson in April 2011, was supplied to Harper MacLeod but clearly not the HMRC letter of 23 February 2011 setting out the detail of the irregularity of the EBTs to De Boer and Tor Andre Flo.

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Failure to do so and no clarification on the two types of EBTs by Campbell Ogilvie who instigated the first type and received £95K from the second meant a Decision by Lord Nimmo Smith that cannot stand in light of the concealed evidence by the men in the room.

The Sin of Omission by Margaret Sangster ends:

And it’s not the things you do, dear,

It’s the things you leave undone,

Which gives you a bit of heartache 

At the setting of the sun

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