I’M NO GANGSTER
‘Don’t call me a criminal or there will be consequences’
AN IBROX shareholder has denied having any links to organised crime.
Lebanese lawyer Mazen Houssami spoke out after Gers chairman Dave King’s courtroom bombshell.
Houssami said “there will be consequences” if the allegation was directed at his firm Blue Pitch.
THE Middle Eastern money man behind a mysterious Rangers investment has broken cover to insist he has no links to the criminal underworld.
Mazen Houssami, a lawyer based in Beirut, Lebanon, spoke exclusively to the Record after a series of explosive courtroom revelations made by the club’s chairman Dave King in Edinburgh last week.
King took to the witness stand to drop the bombshell that four unnamed investors “linked to organised crime and money laundering” had bought into Rangers, as well as an American firm allegedly involved in “criminality”.
Now Houssami has spoken out to deny that any of those links can be traced back to Blue Pitch Holdings, the company he set up in 2012 to help fund Charles Green’s ill-fated £5.5million Ibrox buyout.
Blue Pitch retain a holding of four million shares in the Glasgow club. But they had their voting rights frozen by King three years ago over concerns about who else might be behind the money.
Houssami, though, insists he is in sole control of those shares.
He said: “I am the only shareholder of Blue Pitch – I am the only director – and it has been the case since day one. So there is nothing grey or even close to grey about Blue Pitch.
“I hope he’s not talking about Blue Pitch… This is a very serious allegation that has been made and, speaking as a lawyer, if this allegation is directed at Blue Pitch, then there will be consequences for that.
“But I can honestly tell you, I don’t think he was talking about Blue Pitch.”
The Record understands King’s regime have serious concerns about a lack of transparency over a number of shadowy shareholders with potential links to organised crime in New York and Italy.
As part of his ongoing dispute with the Takeover Panel, King told the Court of Session the club were aware of four shareholders who are the subjects of antimoney laundering legislation.
The identities of the four were not disclosed in court, nor how long they’d held their shares.
But King insisted he cannot lawfully buy them out despite being ordered to make a £19million bid for all the club’s remaining shares.
Houssami bought his way into Ibrox in 2012, when Green needed financial backers to fund his purchase of the club’s assets from administrators Duff & Phelps.
It is widely believed all of Green’s initial investors were rewarded with heavily discounted shares when the club were floated on the stock exchange later that year – with many helping themselves to shares costing just 1p.
Houssami, however, insists he paid more than the 20p which King has now been forced to offer by the authorities.
He claims to have answered the club’s demands for full transparency but has declined to say if he intends to cash in on his holding – which would land King with an £800,000 bill.
That will rise further if fellow shareholders who Houssami describes as his “friends” should also decide to take King’s deal.
He said: “That will be assessed when we have the offer. Until now there has been no offer.
“If there is an offer of 20p, then that would be much less than we paid but, anyway, this is not about a business deal. All we are thinking about is how to keep supporting the team.
“I don’t think what is happening now is being very helpful to the team.”
Houssami added: “If those allegations were made in a courtroom to try to make some kind of low offer to buy everybody out, it will not work.
“It may then become a matter of going through the procedures in order to regain our voting rights, which is something that is easily done. But let’s just wait and look at the offer when it gets to us.
“We don’t want to be there if we are not wanted there. If the team are healthy and they don’t need the shareholders any more, then we are happy to leave – but for the right amount.
“This could be part of a plan to buy everyone out at a low price but Blue Pitch are not offering our shares to sell.
“Of course, we have a lot of friends who are also shareholders and whenever we decide what we are doing it is a joint decision. So I still don’t know what we are going to do about this. It’s too early to decide.”
A spokesman for King and Rangers said they had no comment to make on the claims made by Houssami.
This could be part of a plan to buy everyone out at a low price MAZEN HOUSSAMI ON COURTROOM CLAIMS
WARNING SHOT King’s testimony angered Houssami
BIG SHAREHOLDER Lawyer Mazen Houssami CONCERNS Dave King and Gers boss Steven Gerrard at a shareholder meeting