NEWCASTLE owner Mike Ashley has accused his former recruitment director of fraud.
The Toon supremo is demanding £3.79million after launching a High Court claim against Tony Jimenez.
In explosive documents seen by SunSport, which Jimenez “vigorously” denies, Ashley says he handed £3m to him for a golf investment.
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Ashley feared Jimenez had failed to invest the money and instead diverted it for personal use.
But Newcastle’s former vice-president (player recruitment) insisted the cash was earmarked to help find a buyer for the club.
Ashley wants his £3m back, plus interest of £793,000. But Jimenez said: “His claim is without foundation and the allegations untrue.”
Family at Wor
MIKE ASHLEY treated Tony Jimenez like a member of his family.
Newcastle’s owner trusted him and listened to him.
Charismatic Londoner Jimenez always had someone waiting on the other end of the phone.
Footballers, fixers, property moguls . . . this super-smooth, silver-tongued charmer appeared to have access to the lot.
Jimenez, a former Chelsea season-ticket holder, seemed like the perfect playmate for Ashley.
When Jimenez was made vice-president of player recruitment at Newcastle, Ashley believed he was the perfect man for the job.
Now they are at war, squabbling in the High Court about a £3million payment Ashley claims to have made in return for a 5.76 per cent stake in a golf course development in Les Bordes, France.
The 15-page claim lodged at the High Court — and denied by Jimenez, who says it is “without foundation and malicious fiction” — is damning.
It accuses Jimenez, who went on to buy Charlton in 2011, of a string of lies and misrepresentations aimed at extracting the cash from the billionaire Sports Direct owner.
Now Ashley wants his money back, plus £793,000 interest accruing at £233.61 a day. He will not stop until he is paid. He has made that very clear.
In the explosive documents, Ashley relies on a previous High Court case involving former Newcastle executive director of football Dennis Wise.
Jimenez, who was godfather to one of Wise’s sons, was ordered to pay the ex-Chelsea midfielder back after he failed to put £500,000 of his cash into the golf project.
High Court judge Penelope Reed QC said: “His explanation at times was impossible to follow. I have treated the evidence of Mr Jimenez with extreme caution.”
Wise got his money. Now Ashley wants his.
Ashley accuses Jimenez of “fraudulent misrepresentation” and goes on to claim that he “deliberately concealed his fraud” when his solicitor repeatedly asked for updates on the Les Bordes project.
Jimenez later argued Ashley had instructed him to use the £3m to find a buyer for the club. Ashley insists this is untrue. It is a remarkable twist, an ugly end to a relationship.
Ashley was introduced to Jimenez by former Tottenham director Paul Kemsley.
Jimenez had helped bring Sevilla’s Juande Ramos to Spurs, with their cloak-and-dagger pursuit appealing to Ashley.
Jimenez, who speaks Spanish, acted as translator during the negotiations. He was still dining out on that story when Ashley invited him into Newcastle’s inner circle. Suddenly, he was Mr Big around Toon.
Jimenez got to work, bringing in Jonas Gutierrez, Fabricio Coloccini, Xisco and Ignacio Gonzalez in 2008.
Jimenez, undoubtedly, could get things done.
They ran into problems when Newcastle realised they had bought a series of duds, players well short of the quality needed to take the club back to the top.
Kevin Keegan, exasperated by the haphazard structure of the club behind the scenes, left as boss in September after one win in the Premier League.
A month later, Jimenez left “to pursue other interests”. By then, Ashley had already forked out £3m to Jimenez, transferring his investment into the Les Bordes project on May 13, 2008.
In the months that followed, Ashley claims he was fobbed off by Jimenez’s lawyers when he made a series of enquiries.
Ashley’s claim states: “Given the trust and friendship that then subsisted between Mr Ashley and Mr Jimenez, Mr Ashley was content to accept what was being said on behalf of Mr Jimenez and took matters no further.”
It is a very different story now.
Ashley says he has confirmation from Les Bordes owners that the £3m investment into the project was never made. Instead, he believes Jimenez used the cash to fund his own lavish lifestyle and covered his tracks in a tangled web of complicated property deals.
However, Jimenez countered by insisting that while a property investment was discussed, the investment funds were never provided and that the payment actually relates to management of property investments and Ashley’s failed attempt to sell Newcastle in 2008.
It is all coming out now, with Ashley serving a writ on a man he once considered to be one of his best friends.
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