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Can John Moores and Charles Noell be trusted?

We're uncovering a man with a murky past

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

As Everton fans are scrambling to find out more about the two American investors who are proposing to buy the Blues, we've been talking to Swansea City fans who were placed in a similar situation in late 2014 when the same pair tried to buy a 30% stake in the Swans.

Here are some excerpts from a 2002 Bloomberg Business article that casts one of the investors, John Jay Moores in a less than favorable light.

"Larry Garlick says he distrusted venture capitalist John J. Moores from the moment they met in 1991. Garlick was founder of Remedy Corp., a hot Silicon Valley software startup. Moores, a big-shot tech entrepreneur who had launched BMC Software Inc. (BMC) and chaired Peregrine Systems Inc. (PRGNE), swaggered into Garlick's office and made an offer to invest in Remedy, Garlick recalls. Put off by behavior that he felt was overbearing, Garlick turned down the offer.

"He wondered how Peregrine's core computer-support software business could grow at a peppy 25% per year while many other software companies were faltering. Peregrine execs credited their products and crack sales team. Still, Garlick adds: "I was skeptical."

Turns out his gut was right. In the past six months, San Diego-based Peregrine has warned that it may have to restate $250 million of the $1.3 billion in revenues it posted from 1999 to 2001. Two top executives have resigned, and the company has sued accountant Arthur Andersen LLP. It's also under investigation by the Securities & Exchange Commission."

In fact, the more we read, the more skeptical we are of how ethical this man is. Which is ironic in a way because the Everton Board themselves have acted in a manner that is quite sketchy at times.

"Moores's critics, who have filed dozens of shareholder suits, note that he and entities associated with him sold some 14 million Peregrine shares from 1999 to 2001. That netted more than $630 million. A spokeswoman for Moores, best known as the owner of the San Diego Padres baseball team, says a large portion of the profits went to charities and trusts for nonfamily members. But other investors didn't do so well. After peaking at $79.50 in 2000, the stock was delisted in August. "He reaped a huge prize supported by false financials," says Michael J. Aguirre, a San Diego lawyer pressing a shareholder suit against Peregrine and Moores. "There's no way he wasn't paying attention."

Moores has been criticized in the American media for how he handled the San Diego Padres ownership situation as well. He might have come off looking like the savior of the team, but in reality he sold the team off for a tidy profit on his investment and left them worse off than before.

"So what did Moores know? So far, the evidence is only circumstantial. Former employees say it was impossible to miss disturbing signs right under Moores's nose. They say the constant pressure to hit astronomical sales targets was so oppressive that it defined the culture of Peregrine and forced the staff to do things they weren't comfortable with. Former employees say Gardner pressured the sales staff to boost revenues by pushing distributors to buy more Peregrine software than they could ever unload on their customers.

Critics complain that Peregrine's board has been dominated by insiders who didn't question the company's methods. For instance, the board in 2000 and 2001 was predominately made up of company executives, one of its founders, an in-law of Gardner's, Moores, and two of Moores's employees. The chairman of the audit committee now is Charles E. Noell III, CEO of JMI Services Inc., Moores's investment management firm. Noell and other board members would not comment on the matter."

Note how Moores brought in Charles Noell as the person to lead the audit committee investigating the Peregrine situation. Noell is also involved in the group that is currently studying Everton's books.

While this case might be over a decade old, leopards do not change their spots and Evertonians need to be wary and do their due diligence before we let our club be sold to what looks like a pair of unscrupulous businessmen.