A guest blog by Auldheid
In the previous blog (http://www.tsfm.scot/how-not-to-govern-scottish-football/), TSFM wrote to Harper Macleod raising questions on their advice supplied to the then SPL Board in February 2013 when the Lord Nimmo Smith Decision re use of EBTs and side letters was announced.
A reply was received from Mr McKenzie on 18th September the gist of which can be discerned in the following reply sent on 4th October.
Dear Mr McKenzie 4th Oct 2014
Thank you for your response of 18th September to my letter of 5th September regarding the consequences of information on the true nature of EBTs for Craig Moore, Ronald De Boer and Tor Andre Flo being withheld from your good selves when establishing in 2012 the Lord Nimmo Smith Commission into the use of EBTs and side letters by Rangers FC from 1999.
In recognition of the points you made about publishing your responses on line, your letter of 18th September will not be published although readers of TSFM will be able to gather from this reply which is being published what those points were.
It is a matter of real regret that not only was anonymity required, but that Harper MacLeod were used as a conduit to try and elicit a reply from the SPFL or SFA. In terms of anonymity there were three factors at play:
- Security. The individuals asking the questions are aware that any raised concerning Rangers can attract threats from the worst of the Rangers support. We know that they are a minority but nevertheless, as we have recently witnessed, some are ready to turn threat into action. It is a condemnation of Scottish society that fear has played its part in preventing the truth being revealed about Rangers FC’s use of EBTs since 1999.
- Collective. The Scottish Football Monitor is made up of supporters of many clubs in Scottish football and is in effect a collective. The letters reflect to a large extent the thinking and feelings of the majority of readers. If a name is required for any future correspondence from the SPFL or SFA, then it can be addressed to Mr John Macnab, and a Post Box address can be supplied if necessary in addition to this e mail address email@example.com.
- Accountability. The final factor is the most important because it is why Harper Macleod were approached. It was not just because you were responsible for commissioning the Lord Nimmo Smith enquiry, but because there is absolutely no form of direct accountability by either the SPFL or the SFA to the supporters of Scottish football clubs. Correspondence can be ignored or the content not fully addressed and the customer who pays the wages of both organisations has no means of redress at all. Had there been some oversight in say an Ombudsman type role, it would not have been necessary to involve Harper MacLeod and indeed your good self. We sincerely apologise for doing so along with our thanks for actually responding to our correspondence, but we would like the reasons for our approach being addressed by the clubs who make up both footballing authorities. We hope you pass this particular point on to both SFA and SPFL.
You ask what the provenance is of the information/evidencethat you were given. The answer is we do not know, it was taken from material uploaded mainly in June last year for purposes unknown. Whilst its provenance may be in doubt there is no question as to the veracity of the content of the material itself.
This, when put together, sets out the narrative that prompted our correspondence. This question of provenance simply looks like an excuse for football authority not investigating what the material suggests took place when Duff and Phelps were asked to supply all documents relating to EBTs (no distinction being made) from the inception of the SPL.
Even if the material itself could not be used directly, it should have prompted questions that would have either corrected the narrative or established that the Lord Nimmo Smith Commission was indeed misled either by accident or design, when those documents were not supplied.
The SPFL must surely have the powers to seek the original documents from BDO and the SFA cannot be totally impotent in that regard either.
Then there is the personal knowledge of current SFA President Campbell Ogilvie to draw on. A simple statement explaining why he saw no reason to make any distinction between the irregular DOS REBTs that he launched in 1999 and the later MGMRT EBTs of which he was a beneficiary would surely help clear the air?
Existence of Side Letters.
We note that the Commission were aware of the existence of side letters to Moore, De Boer and Flo at the time of its decision of 28th February 2013 and these were taken into account when determining the appropriate sanction. The existence of side letters is not the issue that was raised in our previous correspondence, it was the nature of the EBTs that was the issue raised. In fact it would seem that the Commission themselves were confused by the switching from the irregular REBT ebts in 2002/03 to the MGMRT EBTs that are subject to further appeal with regard to regularity by HMRC.
The side letters to De Boer and Flo of 30th August and 23 November 2000 related to the DOS REBTs that they were both paid under. It is not known if they had subsequent side letters relating to the MGMRT EBTs , which is possible, but as set out in previous correspondence there were two distinctive types of EBTs and the side letters supplied relate to the earlier irregular type.
The position regarding the Moore EBT is interesting in that whatever EBT side letter was known to the Commission in February 2012 it could only have related to payments made to him under an accompanying side letter from the MGMRT ebts after 2002/03.
That Mr Moore was paid under the REBT scheme in 1999 is a matter of supplied evidence. However there is no record of any side letter in relation to the payment under the 1999 arrangement, which may or may not have been reported in the contract lodged with the SPL and SFA. It was the absence of any side letter in respect of this payment that prevented HMRC pursuing the tax due on it as they did for De Boer and Flo in what has become known as “the wee tax case. “ The evidence of deliberate concealment by the Murray Group of the side letters to De Boer and Flo allowed HMRC to seek repayment outside the normal 6 year time limit.
However the absence of a side letter or tax demand for Mr Moore does not mean this particular payment is not deserving of further scrutiny since
- It was an irregular payment that other clubs could not avail themselves of (as applies to the other two EBTs to De Boer and Flo)
- It is not known if it was reported to the SPL/SFA under the registration rules of that period.
Finally thank you for forwarding our letter of 5th September and previous correspondence to the SFA Compliance Officer. Hopefully any further correspondence will be between him and ourselves, first to our email address, later to a PO Box if required.
It is the hope of all readers of The Scottish Football Monitor that the SFA will stop hiding behind the provenance excuse, which is destroying any semblance of integrity and proper governance of Scottish football and they will use their powers to properly acquire the information that will set the record straight and in doing so start to restore some of the lost trust which is essential for the wellbeing of Scottish football.