THE SERIOUS Fraud Office (SFO) last night abandoned its three-year investigation into Robert Tchenguiz and collapsed Icelandic bank Kaupthing, after admitting there was “insufficient evidence” to proceed.
The SFO’s decision to end the multi-million pound probe is highly embarrassing and could result in the investigator facing substantial claims for damages.
In a statement Robert Tchenguiz said: “I recognise the SFO have an important role to play in investigations of this nature, and have done my utmost to assist them in any way I can. I look forward to closing this chapter and getting on with business.”
Tchenguiz, his brother Vincent, and several associates were arrested in dawn raids last March. The SFO had concerns about their relationship with Kaupthing, which provided the brothers with substantial loans shortly before the bank failed.
But in June the agency dropped its parallel investigation into Vincent Tchenguiz after admitting that it had made serious mistakes when applying for a search warrant.
Both brothers, who became notorious for their playboy lifestyles after making billions during the 1990s, are now set to seek damages and bring proceedings against the SFO. Although the case has cast the agency in a poor light it has also led to calls for its funding to be increased.
At the moment the nation’s fraud investigator operates on an annual budget of just £32m.