Arrests at grain merchant run by rugby legend
Former Scotland rugby international Jim Aitken is one of four people questioned by police investing allegations of fraud, although none has been charged.
The arrests are in relation to the collapse two years ago of Scottish grain merchant Alexander Inglis & Son run by Aitken whose post-rugby career led him into property development and trading.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Three men aged 48, 49 and 75 years, and a 76-year-old woman have been arrested in connection with a fraud following a police enquiry relating to a business registered in the Ormiston area of East Lothian.
“A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”
Aitken, 75, his son Neil, 48, Colin Wright, 49, and Margaret Anderson, 76, are all understood to have been those questioned.
Administrators were appointed in May 2021 at Alexander Inglis & Son, with farmers making up more than a third of the 166 unsecured creditors owed more than £6m by the company, according to the initial administrators’ report published on 7 July 2021.
The most recent administrators’ report (May 2023) estimates a maximum potential payout of about £600,000 for unsecured creditors, which leaves them facing receipts of less than 10p in the pound owed.
Among the farmer creditors, 23 businesses were owed more than £50,000, and their claims alone totalled £2.924m. Several were owed more than £100,000 and some more than £200,000.
Founded in 1950, the company was a big supplier to the whisky and distilling industries. It owned five large grain stores across eastern Scotland and the Borders, some of which have since been sold.
Draft accounts for the year to 31 December 2020 showed a turnover of £105m, but after years of making healthy profits it went into administration in May 2021 owing tens of millions with a weak harvest and a slowing of demand during the pandemic being blamed for its problems.
Aitken, a prop, won 24 caps and his greatest spell came when he captained the 1984 Grand Slam team. He also led them in a 25-25 draw with New Zealand, the closest Scotland have come to beating the All Blacks.
After retiring he launched and acquired a number of businesses including a joint venture with Sir Brian Souter, the co-founder of transport group Stagecoach, to build hundreds of homes near Wallyford in East Lothian.
He was also a director and investor in Corsie Group, a leisure business founded by Richard Corsie, a former world champion bowls player. It emerged in 2008 Aitken had lost £450,000 after Corsie Group went into administration.