James Moore: Botched Tchenguiz probe dishes up trouble for SFO

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The Independent Online

Outlook Of course, if the FCA's leadership feels that they're having a hard time, they should call their colleagues over at the Serious Fraud Office. The latter's problems make those of the former look almost trivial.

Take the botched investigation into the Tchenguiz family. Property tycoons Vincent and Robert are gunning for revenge, and in suing they may get it. They are seeking a combined £300m in damages over well publicised SFO raids on their homes and offices, which they claim damaged their business. The case has already cost the agency £8m, but that could rise by another £10m on the basis that it goes to trial in October. It gets worse: a judge described the SFO's application for security for costs as "fundamentally flawed". You'd think they'd at least get that one right, but apparently not. This one could yet break an organisation that has been grandiosely dubbed Britain's "top fraud-busting agency" but which increasingly just looks busted.

With the FCA providing an appetiser and the SFO the main course, what about dessert? Well, if you look over at the specials board you'll see the Bank of England, which hasn't been immune from what is a shockingly widespread regulatory malaise, given the controversy over what may or may not have been said by its officials to foreign exchange traders before regulators around the world launched investigations into possible collusion ahead of the deadly exchange-rate fix.

For coffee, there's the failure of the accounting industry's watchdog to do anything meaningful about the way banks' accounts were signed off just months before they had to go cap in hand to the taxpayer.

Politicians and the City's cheerleaders have often boasted about London's "well regulated markets". London's rival financial centres may be wearing wry smiles when they next hear that one.