SFO agree £1.5m deal in final Tchenguiz brothers raids claim

by Naomi Rainey

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01 Aug 2014

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THE SERIOUS FRAUD OFFICE has agreed a £1.5m settlement with Robert Tchenguiz, relating to its failed investigation into the collapse of Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

Tchenguiz (pictured, right) and his brother Vincent (pictured, left) were subject to an SFO probe that led to dawn raids against their premises in March 2011. The High Court subsequently quashed the SFO's search warrants and criticised its conduct throughout the botched inquiry.

Last week, the agency confirmed it had reached a settlement with Vincent, paying £3m plus legal costs. It has now reached an agreement with Robert and his R20 business, meaning a planned trial scheduled for October 2014 will not go ahead.

SFO director David Green said he was pleased to bring the civil cases to a close before court proceedings began.

He said: "The SFO deeply regrets the errors for which we were criticised by the High Court in July 2012. On behalf of the SFO, I also apologise to Robert Tchenguiz for what happened to him.

"I reiterate that the SFO has changed a great deal since March 2011, and I am determined that the mistakes made over three years ago will not be repeated."

The Tchenguiz brothers were targeted by the SFO over the running of holding company Oscatello, one of Kaupthing's largest debtors at the time of its collapse. It was later revealed that the March 2011 search warrants relied heavily on documents provided by Grant Thornton, whose liquidators Steve Akers and Mark McDonald were representing Oscatello.

Following his settlement with the SFO, Vincent said he would consider bringing civil and private criminal action against Grant Thornton, on the basis that the SFO had "had unofficially outsourced its investigation" to the firm.

A Grant Thornton spokesperson denied it had advised the SFO in its investigation, adding the firm had "acted appropriately, and in accordance with its professional responsibilities and legal obligations" at all times.

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