GRANT THORNTON and two of its partners have filed a counterclaim against Vincent Tchenguiz and rejected allegations of conspiracy made in a £2.2bn legal claim brought by the property mogul last year.
In documents filed at the High Court in London, Grant Thornton said it was seeking damages and the partners are seeking an injunction to prevent Tchenguiz from publishing defamatory comments.
A spokesperson for Grant Thornton said there was “no basis” for the allegations made against the firm and that the claim “ought never to have been brought”.
Tchenguiz, one of Britain’s most high-profile property entrepreneurs, said: “We are very confident in our legal position.”
Grant Thornton’s counterclaim comes after Vincent Tchenguiz filed a £2.2bn lawsuit against the firm, collapsed Icelandic bank Kaupthing and three individuals for their involvement in a failed Serious Fraud Office investigation against him and his brother Robert. The 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 in 2008.
The SFO probe 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.
The SFO agreed a settlement with Vincent Tchenguiz last summer and apologised publicly.
It was later revealed that search warrants relied heavily on documents provided by Grant Thornton, whose liquidators Steve Akers and Mark McDonald were representing Oscatello.
Tchenguiz alleged that the named parties “deliberately manipulated” the SFO and were “driven by commercial gain and self-interest”.
“This was, I believe, quite simply, a conspiracy by the defendants to use a criminal investigative authority for their own personal ends and to cause irreparable harm to me and my business interests and I intend to see them held fully accountable ,” Tchenguiz said in a statement at the time of the claim.
Grant Thornton said the case had arisen because it “co-operated with the authorities and it is clearly in the public interest that professional firms are able to do so without the threat of unwarranted reprisals such as this claim.”
The firm’s defence is accompanied by a counterclaim in defamation “in respect of untrue and damaging statements made about two Grant Thornton partners when the claim was issued.”
Clarification: The counterclaim for defamation is being brought by two Grant Thornton partners; Steve Akers and Hossein Hamedani, and not the firm itself.
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