Home Commercial Property SFO drops Vincent Tchenguiz fraud investigation

SFO drops Vincent Tchenguiz fraud investigation

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19th Jun 12 8:49 am

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) no longer considers property magnate Vincent Tchenguiz to be a suspect in its probe into suspected fraud at a failed Icelandic bank.

The London headquarters of Tchenguiz was raided as part of an SFO inquiry in March last year, while he was arrested and questioned over the failure of Kaupthing bank. It was one of three Icelandic institutions to collapse in 2008’s credit crunch.

But the SFO’s new director, David Green, has now informed Tchenguiz, 55, that he is no longer a suspect in the case and his bail will be cancelled. His younger brother Robert was arrested at the same time and remains a suspect.

Tchenguiz said: “It is a huge relief that, under the new director of the SFO, this shadow has now been lifted and I can get on with rebuilding my life and my business interests.

“The damage, however, has still to be accounted for.”

The brothers accused the SFO of “institutional failure” at a judicial review hearing in London last month, where they challenged the lawfulness of the financial crime fighter’s decisions.

They both denied any wrongdoing after they were arrested last year.

Representing Vincent Tchenguiz, Lord Goldsmith QC told judges Mr Justice Silber and Sir John Thomas that “false” and “misconceived” allegations had been made by the SFO.

Lord Goldsmith’s written submission said: “A failure on the part of an investigating authority to pick up on every detail during the course of a major investigation is not necessarily evidence of negligence or dereliction of duty.

“But the nature and extent of the SFO’s admitted errors in the present case are of a different order. In Vincent Tchenguiz’s submission they point to collective institutional failure.”

The Tchenguiz brothers believe the investigation has inflicted significant losses on them and jeopardised their relationships with lenders.

Tchenguiz said: “I have consistently explained to the SFO that they had got it completely wrong – but, as their investigation collapsed around their ears, they stubbornly maintained that they regarded me as a suspect.

“The damage to my reputation and the business has been massive.”

SFO director Green revealed he was reconsidering Vincent Tchenguiz’s status as a suspect at the beginning of the judicial review in May. He said it was due to material filed in response to evidence.

When it announced its probe into suspected fraud surrounding UK investment into Kaupthing in December 2009, the SFO said it would “seek to identify whether misrepresentations or false representations were communicated by the bank in the push to attract UK investors”.

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