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Willie McKay’s role in tragic Emiliano Sala transfer may have broken the law 

Willie McKay may have broken the law by helping broker Emiliano Sala’s transfer to Cardiff City



Willie McKay may have broken the law by helping broker Emiliano Sala’s tragic transfer to Cardiff City, The Telegraph can reveal.

The Insolvency Service has confirmed it is examining allegations McKay had breached a Bankruptcy Restriction Undertaking (BRU) forbidding him from managing or promoting a company without permission from Doncaster County Court.

Such as breach is punishable by up to two years in prison.

McKay signed a five-year BRU in August as a condition of being discharged from bankruptcy 3½ years after becoming insolvent with what can be revealed were unsecured liabilities of £5,679,746.

Following Sala’s death in a plane crash on Jan 21 , McKay chose to reveal intimate details of his involvement in the striker’s move to the Premier League.

That included an email he sent to the player on Jan 6  in which he appeared to promote enthusiastically the work of Mercato Sports, an agency set up in the names of his wife, Janis, and eldest son, Mark, a licensed agent.

Sala's death united Cardiff and Nantes in grief

Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

He also said in various newspaper interviews that he had personally asked Nantes for the mandate to negotiate Sala’s transfer – which was ultimately issued in his son’s name – and had spoken to every Premier League club bar one about the striker, including phoning Cardiff about him every day for 10 or 15 days.

Asked whether this activity was compliant with the terms of his BRU, the Insolvency Service said it had already been “considering” evidence regarding McKay’s conduct, adding: “We cannot comment further as this may be tested in the courts.”

The Government agency did confirm, however, that it had received no notice of a court order granting him permission to manage or promote any company.

It also disclosed details of the bankruptcy order made against the Scot on March 30, 2015, including the revelation that he had disposed of more than £2m after being asked in June 2014 to pay HM Revenue & Customs almost half that figure.

It added: “The disposal of circa £2,079,790, included more than £610,000 spent on gambling, more than £420,000 withdrawn in cash and close to £100,000 spent on hotels, restaurants and entertaining expenses.”

McKay did not respond to requests for comment on his potential breach of a BRU or the revelations about his 2015 bankruptcy.

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As revealed by The Telegraph, he is already under investigation by the Metropolitan Police and South Wales Police following a complaint by Cardiff that he threatened to “kill everyone” at the club and to “shoot the lot of you”.

Dorset Police are also assisting a probe into the plane crash that killed Sala, which McKay has admitted booking and paying for in what could be a breach of the Civil Aviation Act punishable by up to two years in prison.

McKay has denied threatening Cardiff officials and has repeatedly stated that Sala’s fatal flight was booked via Dave Henderson – an experienced light aircraft pilot who had flown him around Europe many times – and that he had no input into the selection of pilot or aircraft, neither of which were commercially licensed.

Henderson has yet to comment on any of McKay’s claims and attempts to reach him have been unsuccessful.

If McKay was found to have acted illegally during the Sala transfer, it would raise further questions over the decision by both Cardiff and Nantes to deal with the Scot given his bankruptcy already prevented him being a licensed agent.

It would also cast further doubt over the transfer’s legitimacy, which the Premier League club were already disputing having refused to pay the first instalment of his £15m transfer fee.

They had on Thursday night still received no response from Nantes to their request for a meeting to try to resolve their feud over who owned him when he was killed.

Cardiff could yet launch a vicarious negligence claim against the French club over the death of Sala, something they were exploring even before it emerged on Saturday that the pilot of the plane carrying him had been colour blind and not qualified to fly at night.

The contract between Nantes and Mark McKay was still in force at the time and Article 1242 of the French Civil code states: “We are liable not only for the damage we cause by our own actions, but also for the damage caused by the actions of the people for whom we are responsible, or the things we have in our custody.”

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