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May 11, 2011 1:20 am
Companies linked to Vincent Tchenguiz, the property tycoon, have filed for a judicial review into the Serious Fraud Office raids that were launched alongside his arrest and release without charge with his brother Robert in March.
The arrests, which came as part of the investigation into Kaupthing, the failed Icelandic bank, were made at the same time as raids on the London offices and homes of the two real estate moguls involving more than 130 investigators and City of London police. The brothers were released without charge and deny wrongdoing.
Tchenguiz Family Trust and its adviser Vincos Limited, chaired by Vincent Tchenguiz, on Tuesday served the SFO with a claim alleging the searches were unlawful and the search warrant should be quashed.
The claim says the judge was presented with incomplete information when granting the warrants and that information outside the terms of the warrant was seized, including privileged information relating to another case.
It says that the preconditions of granting the warrant were not fulfilled, and that the warrant should therefore be quashed and the entries, searches and seizures declared unlawful.
The claim also says the searches exceeded the purpose authorised by the judge. Success in the proceedings would allow the Tchenguiz-linked companies to pursue damages.
The SFO is investigating the collapse of Kaupthing in 2008 in collaboration with Icelandic authorities. It is specifically looking into the processes that may have allowed value to be extracted from the bank in the weeks before its collapse. The SFO case manager in charge of investigating the Tchenguiz brothers resigned last month.
Robert Tchenguiz was one of the largest borrowers from Kaupthing, with linked companies receiving €2bn (£1.8bn, $2.9bn) in loans from the bank and its subsidiaries. He has also talked about legal action in the past against the SFO, although no case has yet been filed by his companies.
Vincent Tchenguiz has an outstanding £100m loan from Kaupthing that matured this year. The family trust advised by Vincent Tchenguiz is separately pursuing Kaupthing for more than £1bn in the UK courts. His claim against Kaupthing is focused on losses said to be caused by the bank prompting cross-defaults in the businesses used as collateral for his loan and debt held by his brother.
A spokesman for Vincent Tchenguiz declined to comment further on the claim. He is separately looking to restructure the £2bn debt behind a residential property business. The SFO declined to comment.
Additional reporting by Caroline Binham
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