A BUSINESS partner of disgraced former Rangers owner Craig Whyte has been banned from being a director in Britain for five years.

But in a rare move, Aiden Earley has been given sanction to remain for the time being as a director of Sevco 5088 Limited, the firm that bought the liquidated assets of Rangers oldco.

It is understood this is connected to his joint court battle with Mr Whyte as directors of Sevco 5088 over the ownership of Rangers.

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It has emerged that the directorship ban for the 46-year-old came into force in February after a seven-month fight to clear his name with the Insolvency Service (IS).

The ban came after the IS found more than £2 million in assets were switched out of three companies on the same day and out of the possible clutches of creditors as they entered voluntary liquidation, to other firms he was in control of.

In October, last year, auditors Deloitte flagged up the legal battle over ownership, saying it was a key uncertainty hanging over the Ibrox business. Rangers have consistently said Mr Whyte's claims have no merit.

Mr Whyte has always insisted he was the main driver behind the Sevco 5088, the firm that bought the assets and business of RFC 2012 plc he had put into administration and is now in liquidation.

Days after the sale, the assets - which were bought for £5.5m in June 2012 - were transferred to a different company called Sevco Scotland, which then became The Rangers Football Club.

Mr Whyte's main argument is that the transfer was illegal and Sevco 5088 remained the rightful owner of the club's assets.

Forms lodged with Companies House that appear to show Mr Whyte and Mr Earley were directors of Sevco 5088 were referred to police by legal firm Pinsent Masons.

Former Rangers chief executive Charles Green, who fronted the Sevco consortium, denied in April last year that Mr Whyte or Mr Earley were involved in Sevco 5088 and said the documents were not valid.

But Mr Whyte produced recordings of a conversation between the pair, where Mr Green admitted he had told him: "You are Sevco, that's what we are saying."

Documents relating to Mr Whyte and Mr Earley's directorship remain lodged in Companies House.

The IS confirmed that while the directorship ban is in force, Mr Earley is allowed to remain as a director of Sevco 5088 Limited, a position expected to be reviewed in August.

Mr Earley, who as a teenager was dubbed ­Goldfinger in the City as investors believed he had the Midas touch, was made personally bankrupt in 1989 with debts of around £1m.

He had been linked to Whyte and Rangers, initially through a bizarre tie-up with the Surrey non-league football club Banstead Athletic, which he sponsored through his business Regenesis, and which was mooted as the site for a possible feeder academy for Rangers.

In February 2002 the club ­chairman and owner Terry Molloy, who confirmed he and Mr Earley were having discussions about being joint owners, denied receiving a £250,000 payment from Rangers, after the transaction was flagged up by the club's administrators.

"Aiden Earley has an interest in Banstead. Where any money comes from I don't know: you would have to ask him," Mr Molloy said at the time.

According to IS documents, investigators found that the assets switch on three companies Wood Hall Realisations Ltd, C4E Realisations Limited and Set Meals Realisations Limited resulted in creditors losing over £2m.