SFO warrants to be set aside

Posted: 31st July 2012

Search warrants issued to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) 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 High Court hearing, their lawyers argued that the warrants were unlawful as they were obtained by misrepresentation and non-disclosure to an Old Bailey judge.

Georgain HousesRuling on the case, Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen's Bench Division, and Mr Justice Silber upheld the brothers’ challenge and transferred the case to another branch of the court to consider remaining issues of causation and damages.

Sir John said: ‘We will make in due course declarations that the various seizures 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.’

The SFO had previously announced that the investigation against Vincent Tchenguiz would be discontinued and accepted that the warrants relating to him should be quashed.

The court ruled that, in the application for the warrants, there was a failure by the SFO to set out the background, a lack of clarity, errors of fact and a failure to put the matters that weighed against them being granted.

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.’