Page last updated at 19:16 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Football payments denied on radio

Jeremy Keith
Jeremy Keith changed his story about the interview the court heard

A court has heard how "one of the major architects" behind a plan to defraud Derby County Football Club denied he received any payments live on radio.

However, Northampton Crown Court was told that ex-chief executive Jeremy Keith, 41, of Oxfordshire, then changed his story to police a year later.

He denies conspiracy to defraud and conceal criminal property.

Ex-director Murdo Mackay, 53, of Fife, and former finance director Andrew Mackenzie, 55, also deny the charges.

The case relates to alleged financial irregularities during a 2003 takeover.

The three are accused of arranging a 15m loan from the Panama-based ABC corporation to help the club, which had just been relegated from the Premier League and was 37m in debt.

A court has heard the trio used the loan as a "carrot" to buy the club from administrators for 3.

The prosecution claim the men then paid themselves a total of 440,625 as "secret commission" for arranging the deal.

'Downright lies'

Prosecutor Richard Sutton QC said that when asked live on air on a local radio sports show if anyone at the club had benefitted from the deal, Mr Keith said: "Not that I am aware of."

The court heard Mr Mackenzie also appeared on the programme and denied having anything to do with the takeover.

Mr Sutton told the court: "Either Mr Keith and Mr Mackenzie were prevaricating or telling downright lies."

The court heard that despite his comments on the show in 2005, Mr Keith told police in 2006 that he made it clear he received a fee.

The payments were uncovered in 2006 after a signed affidavit was handed to then chairman John Sleightholme by a stranger at the club, the court was told.

Giving evidence, Mr Sleightholme told the court that at the time of the club's sale, Mr Keith was being portrayed as a "company doctor" - a man whose job was to revive ailing companies and put them back on the road again.

He added that he trusted Mr Keith's knowledge and understanding of the business.

Mark Waters, 48, a businessman from Kent who worked for the board as an accountant in 2003, is also charged with false accounting and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

A fifth man, David Lowe, 58, of Boulevard des Moulins, Monaco, who worked as a legal advisor during the takeover, is charged with helping to acquire or conceal funds.

The case has no connection with the club's current board.

The case continues.

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SEE ALSO
Club directors 'took secret fees'
09 Mar 09 |  Derbyshire

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