Published: 13:40, 06 September 2017 |
Updated: 15:26, 07 September 2017
Exclusive story by Nicola Jordan, John Warrington and Chris Price
The Gills’ vice-chairman could be facing up to 60 years in an American jail over charges of defrauding the US military health care system of nearly six million dollars.
Michael Anderson, who ran a Florida-based drugs company, has been indicted by a grand jury and, if found guilty, money he has invested in the club could be reclaimed.
A statement released today by the club revealed Mr Anderson had agreed to step down as vice-chairman with immediate effect "until the matter is resolved."
According to the club’s latest accounts, Mr Anderson is personally owed more than £400,000 he has invested in Gillingham.
He is also believed to have put in a further £600,000 in a connected company – Three Directors Limited – which holds the assets of the stadium.
If Mr Anderson is found guilty, the club could be forced to pay more than £1 million to the US government, which could ask the courts here to freeze the club’s bank accounts while investigators seek to establish if any cash from the scam ended up being invested in the Gills.
Speaking on Monday, the 64-year-old would not be drawn on the allegations, except to say: “I’m sorry but I am unable to comment on the ongoing investigation.
“As soon as I am vindicated, I will be pleased to give you a statement.”
Club chairman Paul Scally was “shocked” when the Medway Messenger broke the news of his vice-chairman’s situation.
He said: “I need to talk to him. I knew nothing about these matters.
“And depending what happens, I shall be taking my lawyers’ advice.”
He added: “I can confirm that neither the stadium or the transfer budget are at risk.”
Mr Anderson, who owns a £3 million house on its own estate outside West Malling, has been a director since 2009 and vice-chairman for the last three years.
He is alleged to have been involved in a sophisticated scam that targeted Tricare, a government-backed health care service dealing with medical and welfare needs of serving military personnel, veterans, National Guard members and their families.
He had a chequered past in English football before he joined the boardroom at Priestfield Stadium.
He lasted just three days at Ipswich Town before being forced to resign after it emerged he had been involved with two clubs, Aldershot Town and Kettering Town, both of which went into liquidation.
In a lengthy public apology to Ipswich fans, he said the events at the previous clubs had been the result of actions by others and not him.
Before he was accepted on to the Gillingham board, he had passed the Football League’s “fit-and-proper-person” test.
This aims to prevent corrupt or untrustworthy people from serving on club boards.
Mr Scally said he was told about Mr Anderson’s interest in Gillingham in a phone call while he was in Dubai about seven years ago.
He agreed to his investment after just a few meetings, and at the time the chairman told this newspaper he would be “a valuable addition to the club’s hierarchy”.
He recalled one of his first investments was about £50,000 for midfielder and former player of the year Danny Jackman.
A statement released by the club today said: "For the purpose of clarification Mr Anderson has agreed to step down as vice-chairman of Gillingham Football Club with immediate effect until the matter is resolved.
"Mr Anderson has no shareholding in Gillingham Football Club nor associated companies, he is a non-executive director and has no executive involvement in the day to day running of the football club or associated companies.
"I have spoken to the EFL, they have noted the position.
"The club is unable to make any further comment on the matter."
For the full exclusive story see this week's Medway Messenger.
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