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Mission Impossible... the Rangers takeover attempt by Ethan Hunt

It always looked to be a Mission Impossible when the consortium set out its £50 million plan to buy Rangers Football Club.

But when one of the key advisors involved in the takeover bid was revealed to be Ethan Hunt, the namesake of the leader of the Mission: Impossible team, it appeared the assignment might prove too tough.

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The fictional Ethan Hunt – played on the silver screen by Tom Cruise – and his team often used intricate disguises and forged paperwork to crack their mission. But it was a fake proof of funding document from a Belgian bank that led to the collapse of the real Mr Hunt’s bid to take control of Rangers.

Now The Herald can reveal that Ian Anderson, the leader of the consortium behind the takeover bid and the business partner of Mr Hunt, is currently banned from being a

company director in Britain.

Rangers and majority shareholder Sir David Murray had been in discussions with Mr Anderson, head of Spanish investment firm Protocol International, which claimed to have a multinational consortium of investors ready to take over the football club. Mr Hunt is described as Protocol’s trade and operations adviser.

This week it emerged that the deal collapsed through due diligence after Rangers found a proof of funding letter from Belgian bank KBC – the 18th largest in Europe – was fake.

Sir David and Rangers then discovered that Mr Anderson, who had led the talks, had been banned from holding any directorships in the country until 2013 after a previous investment company took millions in fees without providing any funds.

The development has been reported by Sir David to the ethics and fraud unit of KBC and an investigation is expected. Mr Anderson had insisted proof of funding for the Rangers takeover had been provided to Lloyds TSB and there were plans to meet the bank this week.

Mr Anderson claimed the consortium involved three investors from Spain – himself – Holland and Italy and they wanted to spend £20m to £30m over three to five years on players. They claimed they wanted to take 91% of shares but retain Sir David as president and Walter Smith as manager.

However, The Herald can reveal that Mr Anderson was one of two directors of the Victoria Fintrade investment company that took more than £3m in processing fees and insurance deposits over four years from numerous clients without every obtaining funding for them.

When winding up proceedings commenced against Victoria Fintrade in July 2003, they owed more than £3.5m and left behind a trail of defunct multi-million pound development projects.

A spokesman for Murray International said: “I can confirm an approach was made and due diligence was carried out on both the parties involved and the information presented and it became clear that the information was absolutely not genuine. The decision was obviously taken not to pursue the approach.”

Mr Anderson, from Nottingham, is president and chief executive of Protocol, which is based in Mojacar, Spain. His website profile describes him as Dr Ian P Anderson and says

he is a member of the world’s largest anti-fraud organisation, the

Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

His online Linkedin CV claims he was national sales and marketing manager at First Finance (Bristol), that he was area and regional marketing manager at National Westminster Bank and had various roles within HSBC.

What he does not divulge is his involvement at director level of some 20 companies which have dissolved, including his time with Victoria Fintrade.

Protocol has the slogan well-known to Rangers supporters: “We are the people.”

A source close to Sir David said: “There is thankfully no question of any money changing hands. Sir David does due diligence on both the source and the parties involved. Proof of funds is the first thing that is normally done.

“It would not be difficult to go to the bank to confirm that the letter was genuine and authentic. That’s a first step. We don’t understand how they think they could get away with it.”

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