INFORMATION PROVIDED to the Serious Fraud Office by Grant Thornton in its investigation into Mayfair property tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz has been called into question.
SFO director David Green said last week that it would consider dropping its investigation into Tchenguiz in connection to the collapse of an Icelandic bank Kaupthing.
On the final day of a judicial review into the SFO investigation, Lord Goldsmith QC, barrister for Tchenguiz, questioned the information the fraud watchdog had received from Grant Thornton.
The Financial Times reported that the SFO had relied heavily upon Grant Thornton for information it used to build its case against Vincent Tchenguiz and his brother Robert, while the accounting firm was acting as administrator for Kaupthing.
"Our complaint was that they had a direct interest in this litigation, they had a substantial conflict of interest as a result," the FT cited Lord Goldsmith as saying. "Obviously, it doesn't mean that what they're saying may not be right. Of course it may be right. What it does mean is that this is a fundamental point which should have been drawn to the attention of the judge, but wasn't."
Grant Thornton said that it acted appropriately in an emailed statement made in March before the judicial review began
"Grant Thornton has acted appropriately, and in accordance with its professional responsibilities and legal obligations, throughout. Any disclosure made has been accurate and in accordance with those professional and legal obligations.
"It is the responsibility of the investigating agency to review and interpret any information provided to it, and to act as it sees fit. Grant Thornton did not act as advisor to the Serious Fraud Office
"We understand that the SFO has been ordered to produce a witness statement to clarify matters. We cannot comment further due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the SFO, the continuing judicial review process and our confidentiality obligations."
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