SFO Tchenguiz blow

Kasmira Jefford
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THE SERIOUS Fraud Office was dealt a blow yesterday after it was forced to hand back documents seized in a dawn raid on Vincent Tchenguiz’s offices earlier this year, part of its probe into the collapse of Kaupthing.

The embattled property tycoon yesterday declared the SFO had admitted the decision to issue search warrants “should be quashed”.

The blow to the SFO’s probe comes just months before its head, Richard Alderman, ends his term in office.

The SFO and the Treasury solicitor’s office wrote to Tchenguiz yesterday concluding that “there were factual errors contained in the information” about the allegations made in order to obtain the warrants.

Vincent Tchenguiz and his brother Robert were arrested in a dawn raid in March under an SFO probe into the collapse of Iceland’s Kaupthing Bank.

Vincent Tchenguiz, who was later released without charge, has since challenged the search warrants, which led to swathes of documents and data being seized from his offices, and requested a judicial review.

Last week trustees of the Tchenguiz Family Trust lost patience with the SFO, who have twice asked to delay to the review, and threatened to sue the SFO for £100m damages.

Tchenguiz’s property firm Peverel fell into administration just days after his arrest, when a loan was called in.

The Treasury Solicitor’s Department said, according to Tchenguiz: “In these circumstances, the SFO concedes that the decision to issue ...warrants should be quashed and the material seized under the warrants returned forthwith.”

The prosecutor, however, said yesterday that “the investigation is still very much ongoing”. They declined to comment further on the allegations.

Tchenguiz said: “Whilst I am delighted that they have asked for the warrants to be quashed, I am astonished that the SFO intends to continue its investigation, given that they have conceded that each and every one of the three allegations against me is false.”