Football agent Willie McKay has been cleared of all charges relating to presents he bought for his wife when he was facing bankruptcy proceedings.
The 62-year-old was found not guilty of two counts of fraudulent disposal of property by a jury of eight men and four women at Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday.
Prosecutors said Mr McKay spent more than £63,000 on “lavish and expensive” gifts for his wife to ensure his money was not “swallowed up” in the bankruptcy proceedings and used to pay off his “substantial” debts.
He bought his wife Janis a £9,100 Rolex watch and a £54,000 Jaguar car in December 2014 – months after he had been served with a bankruptcy petition due to unpaid taxes of around £902,000, jurors were told.
But he claimed he genuinely believed he would be able to pay off his debts before his bankruptcy hearing, using commissions that were owed to him, and did not intend to defraud his creditors when he bought the gifts.
The jury was told that Mr McKay was a self-employed football agent who earned commissions from negotiating contracts with football clubs on behalf of professional players.
In June 2014, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) issued him with a statutory demand for tax arrears in the sum of £902,128 and, when he did not make any payment, a bankruptcy petition was personally served on him in September the same year, the court heard.
The jury was told that, three months later on December 14, Mr McKay visited a jeweller in Leeds and bought his wife a Rolex Datejust II watch and, in the following days, bought a Jaguar XK5 convertible registered in his wife’s name, which was delivered to their home in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, on Christmas Eve.
The court heard that Mr McKay had around £47,000 in his bank account – which he had not used to pay off his debts – and he used this money and cash to buy the gifts.
He was made bankrupt on March 30 2015 and later signed a bankruptcy restrictions undertaking that will continue until August 2023, the jury was told.