Tchenguiz on attack after firm collapses

 
David Hellier
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EMBATTLED tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz has blamed last week’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) raid for a series of actions which led to his property management company, Peverel Group, entering administration after failing to repay a loan.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch demanded repayment within 24 hours of the raid of a £124.6m loan plus £11.4m accrued interest, another Vincent Tchenguiz company, Consensus Business Group (CBG), said in a statement.

“Since November 2009 the bank has agreed not to call in the loan but as soon as news of the investigation broke that was it,” said one source close to the brothers.

Peverel Group manages some 200,000 residential units throughout the UK and controls a number of subsidiary operating companies

The bank demand came just a day after Vincent and his brother Robert Tchenguiz were arrested with seven other people when police raided addresses in London and Reykjavik linked to a Serious Fraud Office investigation into the collapse of Iceland’s Kaupthing Bank.

“We have been in consensual discussions with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, since late 2009, about the financial structure of the group and we regret that their sudden actions have forced this group in to administration,” Vincent Tchenguiz said in a statement.

“We believe that their actions are a direct result of the very public commencement of the Serious Fraud Office’s investigation into events surrounding the collapse of Kaupthing bank.”

Separately Vincent’s brother Robert issued a statement threatening to sue the SFO. He said he had asked his solicitors, Ian Burton and Richard Sallybanks, now backed up by former head of public prosecutions Ken Macdonald, to determine whether the searches were obtained legally.

TIME LINE | AFTER THE RAID

Wednesday 9 March
The Serious Fraud Office, together with the City of London police, raid the offices of the Tchenguiz brothers, Robert and Vincent. The brothers are released without charge later that day.

Thursday 10 March
In Cannes, the brothers’ annual party at the Mipim property conference aboard their yacht goes ahead as planned. But the brothers do not attend.
Bank of America demands immediate repayment of its £124.6m loan.

Saturday 12 March
Vincent Tchenguiz tells friends that he has no alternative but to seek administrators for Peverel, his property management company. Both brothers tell friends of their growing anger at the way the SFO conducted its raid.

Monday 14 March
Zolfo Cooper is appointed as administrator to Peverel in the first financial blow to the Tchenguiz brothers’ empire.
Robert Tchenguiz appoints a former head of public prosecutions Ken Macdonald, to examine whether the SFO obtained search and arrest warrants legally.
Robert dismisses the SFO raid as a “publicity stunt” designed to draw attention to the body’s uncertain future.