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Shareholders: West Brom to fund Jeremy Peace loan probe

Albion have agreed in principle to fund an investigation into a loan the club made to former owner Jeremy Peace, the club’s minority shareholders have revealed.

Former owner Jeremy Peace
Former owner Jeremy Peace

Shareholders For Albion (S4A), which represents the majority of small shareholders who own 12 per cent of the club, have long called for an independent investigation into the loan which was made in 2014.

And the the group says following talks with CEO Ron Gourlay, the Baggies will now pay for an investigation into the loan.

A statement issued to members seen by the Express & Star says: “We are pleased to confirm that Ron Gourlay has agreed, in principle, to commission the independent investigation into the background and all of the circumstances surrounding the issue of the loan.”

Albion declined to comment when asked about the investigation. Peace borrowed £3.7million from the club into his own company – WBA Holdings – in 2014. That debt was transferred to current owner Guochuan Lai when he took over the club in 2016.

The interest for that loan has now exceeded the £1million mark – meaning the Baggies are now owed in the region of £5million.

It has previously been claimed by S4A that Peace may have used the loan from the club to WBA Holdings to assist a bid he had made, three months earlier, to purchase shares in WBA Group, the club’s parent company. Peace increased his stake in WBA Group from around 65 per cent to 88 per cent in 2014. Two years later he sold the club to Lai for around £200m. Using the loan to increase his own shareholding is something Peace has always strenuously denied. The ex-chairman has also always maintained the loan was ‘competitively advantageous’ to the club.

The statement from S4A to it’s members added: “We await a detailed proposal on the terms of reference for the investigation.

“Obviously, if the terms of reference are not correct, the investigation will be practically and legally meaningless.

“It has to be independent, full and unfettered. We will confirm when the terms of reference have been agreed and the investigation has commenced.”

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