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
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss