Beware the Black Cube: intelligence agency slaps Vincent Tchenguiz with a lawsuit

Wealthy businessman faces legal wrath of Israeli veterans he hired to help in £300m fight with SFO

Just when you’ve forced the Serious Fraud Office to drop its case against you, the former Israeli intelligence agents invited into your life file a new lawsuit.

The long legal battle between Britain’s millionaire Tchenguiz brothers and the fraud watchdog – which sees them suing the SFO for £300m damages plus interest after its humiliating climbdown – has taken another remarkable twist.

Vincent Tchenguiz is now being sued for £330,000 by a private intelligence agency, Black Cube, which is staffed by members of an “elite intelligence unit in Israel”. Its agents allege breach of contract after he hired them to help with his global legal work.

Mr Tchenguiz is in turn suing them in Israel, alleging fraudulent invoices – allegations Black Cube describes as a “fabrication”, according to written arguments.

The dispute throws a spotlight on the increased use of private intelligence firms by corporations and the world’s rich.

In the case of Vincent Tchenguiz, the agents he hired accompanied him wherever he went; they sat next to him at meetings; and four of them even took up residence in Park Lane at the offices of his family trust, Vincos, according to legal documents laid before the High Court. Black Cube was paid an £85,000-a-month retainer, the papers say.

The papers also show that Mr Tchenguiz planned to make a film about his struggle with the British authorities, which began with arrest by City of London police and now sees the brothers Vincent and Robbie heading for court with a huge damages claim.

A witness statement from Avi Yanus, chief financial officer at Black Cube’s parent company, claims that the agency was hired immediately after Mr Tchenguiz’s arrest over the collapse of the Icelandic bank, Kaupthing.

One of the agency’s primary tasks was to track down who was providing damaging information to the SFO, the papers say. Thereafter, its team formed “the core of an entourage Mr Tchenguiz liked to have surrounding him for long periods of time”. Black Cube’s employees have extensive contacts within the Israeli government and intelligence world. Several members of the Black Cube board are still in the Israeli military reserves.

Colonel Aric Granit is “strategic consultant with the Israeli ministry of defence and defence industries”, and Brigadier General Mati Leshem spent 27 years in the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) during which, the company states, “he commanded various spearhead units, led soldiers in several wars and combat operations, and served as commander”.

Ido Joseph, a project manager, was a captain in the IDF where he carried out “infrastructural complex researches using economical models and intelligence knowledge”. Vlad Tiktin, also a project manager, was the head of unit commander’s bureau, where his responsibilities included “classifying incoming information and analysing it into relevant data”.

One London-based strategic consultant – a former British army officer who has worked with the Israeli security sector – said: “Black Cube is at the high end of the market. From what we know they are into analysis and security systems rather than heavy, muscle stuff. They appear to have good connections within the IDF, [but] we don’t know the level of [any] work they carry out for the Israeli state.”

A source connected to Black Cube insisted that it had played an important role on behalf of their millionaire client in seeing off the SFO.

Black Cube claims, in court papers, that Mr Tchenguiz, in addition to the retainer, agreed to pay the company 1 per cent if successful “from the the revenues achieved from Project Athena or from any other project he will decide to instruct the company... These proceeds include cash settlements, court case settlements and proceeds of the movie.”

After the Serious Fraud Office admitted defeat and dropped the charges against the Tchenguiz brothers last June, a party was held. Black Cube’s Mr Yanus states: “In the course of this party, I said to Mr Tchenguiz words to the effect of ‘What about Black Cube?’ Mr Tchenguiz responded: ‘You got your 1 per cent’.”

However, Mr Tchenguiz subsequently began to question some of the invoices submitted by Black Cube. A witness statement from Vincos’s in-house legal counsel Jamie Drinnan alleges that between December 2011 and February 2013 “Black Cube and its directors, officers and employees engaged in a wholesale fraud on Vincos by issuing false and fraudulent invoices, by dishonestly misrepresenting the nature and scope of the services being undertaken and by taking secret profits or ‘kickbacks’ from associated Israeli organisations introduced to Vincos.

“Some £823,790 has been paid to Black Cube over the past 13 months by Vincos. It is believed by Vincos that much of this sum has been obtained dishonestly.”

The intelligence outfit’s solicitors, Peters & Peters, have taken out an injunction to strike out the counter-claim made in Israel by Mr Tchenguiz alleging BC Strategy, of which Black Cube is a subsidiary, “engaged in wholesale fraud”, a claim the Israeli firm strongly denies.

Black Cube refused to comment at its office in Tel Aviv about the case.

Keith Oliver, a senior partner with Peters & Peters said: “It is a matter of considerable regret to BC who have been working assiduously on behalf of Mr Tchenguiz and his companies that this dispute will have to be resolved by the courts. BC are confident that their integrity and the justification for their claims will be vindicated.”

A hearing to determine whether the two claims should be heard together in London will take place at the High Court in London later this month.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
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 General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot