Tchenguiz brothers win judicial review of SFO raids

The brothers were arrested at dawn on a day they were due to fly out to Cannes to host a party on their yacht

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) suffered a serious bloody nose yesterday, after a High Court judge granted the Tchenguiz brothers a judicial review into their arrests and searches of their homes and offices in raids last year.

The three-day hearing has been scheduled for early May and could cast an unflattering light on the law agency's procedures.

Lord Justice Thomas, who has been critical of the SFO before, said that the review should cover the entire conduct of the inquiry into the brothers, which was launched following the failure of Kaupthing, the Icelandic bank. Both brothers had loans with the bank while Robert Tchenguiz was also its major shareholder.

They are already seeking damages of more than £100m for "wrongful arrest" as well as for the searches, but believe that "aggravated and exemplary" damages could now push this much higher.

The arrests were made in dawn raids in March on a day when the colourful brothers had been due to fly out to Cannes to host a party on their yacht at the Mipim show, an annual bunfight for the glitterati of the property world. Tchenguiz parties have become legendary for their glamour and the bevy of beautiful women attending as guests.

Vincent, the elder of the two, has been regularly photographed with one or more of them on his arm, although his brother Robert, the younger and maybe smoother of the Iranian-born pair, has slowed down noticeably since his marriage.

The SFO swooped as part of its investigation into Kaupthing, which collapsed during the financial crisis.

Robert Tchenguiz was its biggest shareholder and a customer, while Vincent had taken a loan out with the bank several months before the collapse. The brothers furiously denied any wrongdoing, and neither has ever been charged.

The waters were further muddied when the head of the SFO inquiry into the Tchenguizs quit just two weeks after the dawn raids, although the law agency said that Mick Randall had been planning to join the private sector for some time and denied his departure was connected to the case.

In December, the SFO faced a further setback when it was forced into an embarrassing climbdown, admitting the warrants should be quashed and returning thousands of documents and items seized during the raids.

A furious Robert Tchenguiz said in a statement yesterday that he had repeatedly offered to co-operate with the SFO.

He added: "My business, my family, and I personally continue to suffer losses as a result of the SFO's unlawful, aggressive and disproportionate action.

"The SFO's conduct has left me with no option but to take legal recourse in order to recover from the extensive financial and reputational damage they have caused, whilst also infringing my civil liberties.

"Irrespective of the judicial review, I am confident that the SFO's investigation will conclude in my favour."

Vincent Tchenguiz declined to comment, but sources close to him said he took a similar view of the situation and had supplied the SFO with the loan agreement which is under scrutiny, which would have cleared him.

The SFO said that it had not opposed the brothers' application for a judicial review into the inquiry.

Property portfolios

Property has always been the lynchpin of the Tchenguiz brothers' business empires.

Vincent's various interests are held through the Tchenguiz Family Trust, which he is a beneficiary of and to which his Consensus Business Group is principal adviser.

The elder Tchenguiz brother is one of Britain's biggest landlords, owning the freeholds to close to 1 per cent of the country's residential properties. Almost all are leased out on long leaseholds, but each one will provide a small "ground rent". Together they yield a formidable income.

The portfolio is currently up for sale in a process being conducted by Lazard Brothers, with sovereign wealth funds from the oil-rich nations of the Persian Gulf likely to provide the main bidders. The portfolio has been valued at £3.5bn, although there is £2.4bn of debt secured on the rental income.

The trust also holds a substantial commercial property portfolio, valued at up to £2.3bn, which includes Hilton hotels and Tesco stores. In addition there are numerous other commercial properties, although again some of these have borrowings secured against rental income.

Property, too, is the mainstay of his brother Robert, although in line with the lower profile kept by the younger Tchenguiz, he is more secretive about what he owns. However, he also holds much of his interests through a trust, the Tchenguiz Discretionary Trust, of which he is a beneficiary. His R20 company is also the principal adviser to the trust. However, over time Robert Tchenguiz has held stakes and been involved in the corporate activities of a number of companies. They include Sainsbury's, Mitchells & Butlers and the Lara Croft game company SCi Entertainment. He has also held stakes in Greene King and Marston, Somerfield and the pub chains Yates & Slug and Lettuce. Some of these were lost in the Kaupthing fallout.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Developer - Watford - £45,000 - £47,000

£45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Product Manager - (Financial Services) - SW London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project