Fraud, Derby County & A Tiny Bit Of Justice

By on Jul 21, 2009 in English League Football, Finance, Latest | 5 comments

It is not often that one can say with any degree of confidence that someone in football is a crook and have evidence to back it up, but the usual caveats do not apply in the cases of Jeremy Keith, Murdo McKay and Andrew McKenzie, formerly of Derby County, who were imprisoned last week over their involvement with the Championship club. Mackenzie and Mackay were both sentenced to three years in prison having being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the club. Keith was sentenced to 18 months having been convicted of false accounting. in addition to these three, their Monaco-based lawyer David Lowe was imprisoned for two years for money laundering. Keith, McKay and McKenzie have also been barred from acting as company directors.

The charges related to the take-over of the club, in 2003. The allegation was that Keith, McKay and McKenzie had claimed £125,000 plus VAT each from the club without gaining that prior consent of the directors of the club for what seems to have been pretty spurious “consultancy services” at the time of the takeover. The “consultants” had been paid for apparently sourcing a £15m loan from a Panamanian company called the ABC Corporation, but this “fee” was funnelled out of the country and into an Isle of Man company called Streamline Management, which was owned by Lowe. This, however, may not even have been the full extent of the murkiness going at Pride Park at the time.

The involvement of “The ABC Corporation”  may ring bells at several English football clubs. This company is said to be by owned by Michael Hunt, who is a man with chequered history. As a director hugely Nissan’s franchise in the UK, Hunt was imprisoned for eight years in 1993 for what was at the time the UK’s biggest ever tax fraud. The company had been rumoured to have lent Queens Park Rangers £10m in 2002 at a time when the club was facing receivership and had been warned by the Football League that they would not be allowed to start the 2002/03 season unless they exited administration. The appalling terms of the loan, however, meant that Rangers managed to stay in a state of financial flux until their buy out by Flavio Briatore in November 2007. There was also talk last year that ABC was behind s loan of a similar size to Sheffield Wednesday.

McKay, a former Director of Football at Derby, alleged in 2006 that the £375,000 had been split between him, Keith and McKenzie, but the other two denied ever having received any of this money. By this time, the club’s supporters trust, Ramstrust, were publically voicing their concerns over the involvement of these people in their club. They were vindicated by the summing up of the judge, who was scathing in his assessment of Keith, McKay, McKenzie and Lowe. “The spectre of prominent members of society behaving in such a dishonest way on this scale, without any apparent hesitation, conscience or remorse, is very unedifying and can only be dealt with by immediate custodial sentences”, said Judge Ian Alexander QC, adding that, “You are all mature, intelligent men with no previous convictions and all of you no doubt have in many other ways acted admirably during your lives, but you have now all been found guilty by a jury of serious offences”.

At the time, the club’s support was divided between those that viewed them as saviours and those that were suspicious of their motives, but the superb rearguard work of the trust ensured police involvement by 2006. Anyone that doubts the role that supporters trusts play should take particular notice of this case. It was their insistence and hard work which ensured that justice was eventually done in the case of Derby County. It should also come as no surprise that there are parasites such as these – and they are far from the only ones or, one suspects, the worst offenders – involved in the running of football clubs. As much as we can do is to continue to try and flush them out.

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  1. A well written article apart from one key error which you have repeated from previous reports on this issue. The supporters opposition to these club directors was started and led by The RPG (Rams Protest Group) who were a collection of Rams fans with no affiliation to either the official supporters group or the Rams Trust.

    Andy

    July 21, 2009

  2. I’m sorry Andy, but that is not the case.
    RamsTrust was investigating these people LONG before the RPG came into being. Indeed a document of some 200+ pages of evidence was actually handed over to local & national media in *March 2005*. It was also handed over to the leaders of the two consortia who wanted to take over the club.
    That evidence had been collected over the previous 12+ months and involved a tremendous amount of research via Companies House and even the British Library where one of our members made several trips to wade through miles of microfilm from Scottish newspapers.

    We also spoke to people who claimed they had been deprived of money which was rightfully theirs by one of the accused. Those people supplied helpful evidence as to how this money was moving around.

    It was this information that enabled Peter Gadsby to know exactly where to look when he took over the club in April 2006. He subsequently involved the police which led to the convictions this week.

    The RPG came into being in *late 2005/early 2006* and all credit to that group who created a tremendous amount of noise and disruption at home games. Some members of the trust were also members of the RPG.

    So to state that the opposition was started and led by the RPG is factually incorrect.
    The RPG did a fantastic job of raising awareness.

    There are a lot of people who deserve the credit for the sentences passed down – everyone worked together in the interests of OUR club.

    Elaine Dean
    Chair of RamsTrust 2003 -06

    Elaine

    July 21, 2009

  3. Quite so, Elaine. I fear that Andy is suffering from ‘truth decay’ and there is no need, as we support the same club and protected it vigorously at the time in our own ways.

    There was a great deal of lobbying and opposition from the trust in the background, before local and national media utilised the RT dossier at Easter in 2005.

    Sportswriter of the Year David Conn had run articles in the Independent about QPR, Derby County and the regimes at Loftus Road and Pride Park Stadium since 2003 with the help of the respective trusts and this consolidated early suspicions about the motives afoot at both clubs.

    Tom Huddlestone was sold in desperation by JK & Co to Tottenham for what we know was a pittance (but reported as £2m + add-ons) in the January 2005 transfer window and supporters were lied to – actions that merely hardened the trust’s resolve that protests leading to removal of the regime would be the required course of action.

    When the DET published a large expose based on the dossier that Easter, there was understandably some polarisation of fans confused by the notion that the club’s directors may be acting against its best interests.

    Indeed, the official supporters club declared that they would never oppose the club board, whoever they were – confusing the activists’ loyalty to the team (which never wavered) with belief in the existing custodians, which was not merited.

    Late accounts, vague or dismissive answers to questions from fans all added to the doubt about the regime among the general fanbase and the sale of Rasiak (Aug 2005) triggered overt public protests, initiated by RamsTrust in September 2005 after endorsement at their AGM.

    RamsTrust then collected a large fans’ petition which was presented to the Co-op Bank management in Derby in mid-December 2005.

    By late November 2005, some fans on discussion boards (including RamsTrust – I still have the mails) declared the need for a ‘one-issue’ fans’ group, and the RPG was formed from both RT members and others.

    They wanted to accelerate the scale of public protest and had the single aim of removing JK & Co from Derby County.

    Like the trust, they were flyering and lobbying fans, club and media but added more vivid (and very effective) elements to matchday protests, which commenced in January 2006 and included such as ‘red cards’ and balloons; these initiatives were successful at rallying fans to gather outside the stadium after games to shout down the board.

    All of this active opposition encouraged the local consortia who had set in train their bid for the club and the bank was finally active in summoning the board and effecting the extraction the regime from the club.

    Of course, Gadsby won the day in April 2006 but had to unravel a £50m debt and alert the authorities to the financial trail that RamsTrust had started to uncover in their dossier.

    We ‘Reclaimed The Rams’ and many fans and various parties far and wide worked together to win back club and stadium.

    Given the trauma and wisdom gained from such a chastening experience for the whole fanbase it is unecessary to factionalise Rams fanns; it serves no purpose and harmony and unison – not division – should result from such concerted and well-directed efforts from all concerned.

    We’re all Derby!

    Paul Mortimer

    July 22, 2009

  4. There’s a few good lines in David Conn’s report but perhaps my favourite is:

    Mackay, the former Fifa-registered players’ agent with a string of struck-off companies behind him, made the remarkable plea to the jury that what he had done was: “OK in the football world”.

    Heh.

    ejh

    July 22, 2009

  5. but there is no such Isle of Man company called Streamline Management – clarification required -thks

    Andrew

    July 24, 2009

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