Vincent Tchenguiz warrants to be set aside

 

Search warrants issued to the Serious Fraud Office against property magnates Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz are to be set aside.

The brothers were arrested and questioned in March 2011 after investigators swooped on their London headquarters during an inquiry into the collapse of Kaupthing bank, one of three Icelandic banks which failed at the height of the credit crunch in October 2008.

Both men were released on bail without charge pending further investigation.

At a hearing at London's High Court in May, their lawyers said that the warrants were unlawful as they were obtained by misrepresentation and non-disclosure to an Old Bailey judge.

Today, Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen's Bench Division, and Mr Justice Silber upheld their challenge and transferred the case to another branch of the court to consider the issues of causation and damages.

Sir John said: "We will make in due course declarations that the various seizes and searches consequent on a warrant to search the premises were unlawful. We will transfer the further conduct of the action to the Queen's Bench Division."

In June, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that the investigation against Vincent Tchenguiz would be discontinued and accepted that the warrants relating to him should be quashed.

In a complex ruling, the High Court judges said that in the application for the warrants there was a failure to set out the background, a lack of clarity, errors and a failure to put the matters that weighed against them being granted.

They said: "We have no doubt that, if what was in the information had been presented in such a way that the background was properly explained, the errors were corrected and the matters that weighed against the grant of the warrant had been drawn to the judge's attention, it would have made a real difference and he would not have granted the warrants."

They rejected a challenge to the lawfulness of the arrest of Robert Tchenguiz, saying that the "necessity test" was amply made out.

They criticised the conduct of the search carried out by five SFO employees and one independent lawyer.

"In our view, the policy of the SFO in using its own lawyers was misconceived, though it was, no doubt, adopted because of the lack of resources available to the SFO," the ruling stated.

How serious the consequences were in the circumstances of the case could only be determined by the evidence that would be heard in the Queen's Bench proceedings.

The judges added that the investigation and prosecution of serious fraud in the financial markets required proper resources, both human and financial, and it was quite clear that the SFO did not have such resources in the Tchenguiz case.

Sir John said: "In the present case, the result has been our decision to set aside search warrants against two well-known businessmen after a long investigation of transactions in the financial markets.

"In other cases, the result could have been the failure properly to investigate and prosecute successfully conduct where there could be no doubt as to its criminality and serious effect on public confidence in financial institutions and the financial markets.

"It is clear that incalculable damage will be done to the financial markets of London, if proper resources, both human and financial, are not made available for such investigations and prosecutions in the financial markets of London."

Later, Robert Tchenguiz said in a statement that, as a result of the SFO's actions, he and his family had suffered "enormous damage", not least to his reputation.

"I now intend to pursue my claim in respect of the damages I have suffered as a result of the SFO's illegal actions. I also intend to bring proceedings against the SFO in respect of my arrest," he added.

Vincent Tchenguiz said later: "The series of concessions made by the SFO following the raids on my home and offices had already shown that the search warrants were flawed.

"Today's judgment highlights that the orders for those searches, which have caused massive damage to my business and to my reputation, should never have been granted.

"They were the result of the SFO, under its former leadership, omitting pertinent facts and making misrepresentations to the court. I am glad that this judicial review will result in far-reaching changes in the law which will prevent others from suffering a similar injustice in the future.

"I will be seeking damages from the SFO - and from any other parties who contributed to the court being misled. My claims will reflect the substantial personal and business costs and losses that have directly resulted from the actions of these parties."

Later, the SFO said in a statement: "The SFO had conceded that serious mistakes were made in connection with the application for search warrants in this case but notes the reasoned tone of the judgment and the helpful comments it contains.

"The judgment and the SFO's concession highlight the importance of quality and accuracy in the drafting of information supporting warrant applications.

"This focus on quality underlies the reorganisation of the SFO already conducted by the new director, David Green QC.

"The restructuring and recent senior appointments are designed to provide inbuilt layers of quality assurance and avoid the repetition of such errors.

"The SFO will provide any assistance required to the suggested review of the process of obtaining warrants.

"The SFO will bring in specialist knowledge as and when required.

"We note that the court declined to consider the merits of the future of the investigation, this being the responsibility of the SFO as an investigating and prosecuting authority.

"The SFO will continue with the investigation with renewed focus and vigour.

PA

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home