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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most