LONDON: Harry Redknapp made “disastrous” business decisions and lost £250,000 in a “very unsuccessful” takeover bid at Oxford United, his banker told Southwark Crown Court on Thursday.
He lost every penny as part of a loan to take control of the club, HSBC executive Alan Hills said.
Redknapp’s barrister John Kelsey-Fry QC used the example to deny prosecution claims that the Tottenham manager was a “hard-headed businessman”.
He asked Hills at Southwark Crown Court, in London: “Do you remember an occasion when he was persuaded to loan, at very short notice, £250,000 to buy Oxford United and that money just disappeared into the mist?”
Hills replied: “I have never seen it, yes.”
Hills said Redknapp had shown acumen in the property market, but he agreed with Kelsey-Fry’s claim that “with the benefit of hindsight, some investments were disastrous”.
He added: “With regard to the shares (in Oxford United)…it is fair to say they were very unsuccessful.”
Hills, an associate director with HSBC in London between 2000 and 2009, said he held meetings with Redknapp alongside the football boss’ solicitor and accountant.
The jury was told Hills was not initially informed of Redknapp’s Monaco dealings in addition to the domestic accounts he held with HSBC.
Hills said: “I would have expected to have known or be told of it.”
When Redknapp mentioned the account, he told Hills the account name was “in relation to his dog”.
“When asked for a name for the account, that was the first thing that came to his mind,” Hills told jurors.
Redknapp had sole responsibility for the Monaco bank account at the centre of £189,000 bung allegations, the court heard.
He was the only signature on records for the account, said David Cusdin, vice-president of HSBC in Monaco between 2000 and 2005.
Cusdin also described co-defendant Milan Mandaric as “a perfect gentleman”.
Giving evidence via videolink at Southwark Crown Court, Cusdin said he was aware that Redknapp had flown to the principality to open an account.
“I was certainly aware of his visit – it was quite possible that I didn’t open the account, it was one of my team – but I was certainly aware of the visit,” Cusdin told the court.
“I don’t have a recollection – but I could well have shaken his hand at the meeting.”
Cusdin met Mandaric on several occasions, the court heard.
The ex-bank chief said he had known Mandaric since the football chairman had sold club Nice in France.
“We had regular contact as clients and account officers would,” he said.
The bank chief added that “Mr Mandaric, is a perfect gentleman… he would always ring prior to the visit”.
Mandaric phoned HSBC Monaco in advance of a “rendezvous” between Redknapp and the bank, Cusdin said.
The bank chief added that Redknapp had chosen to call the account Rosie 47.
Cusdin agreed with defence barrister Lord (Ken) Macdonald QC that Mandaric was a man he “trusted implicitly”.
Lord Macdonald added: “You can’t just walk off the street and open a bank account there.”
Both Redknapp, 64, of Poole, Dorset, and Mandaric, from Oadby, Leicestershire, deny two counts of cheating the public revenue when Redknapp was manager of Portsmouth Football Club.
The first charge of cheating the public revenue alleges that between April 1, 2002 and November 28, 2007 Mandaric paid 145,000 US dollars (£93,100) into the account.
The second charge for the same offence relates to a sum of 150,000 US dollars (£96,300) allegedly paid between May 1, 2004 and November 28, 2007.