Businessman Vincent Tchenguiz lodged papers at the High Court this week claiming £200m in damages from the Serious Fraud Office for a range of misdeeds including malicious prosecution, trespass, false imprisonment and misfeasance in public office.
The case has already gained notoriety in the press and legal circles after the High Court set aside SFO search warrants against Tchenguiz and his brother Robert that were raised during an investigation into the collapsed Icelandic bank Kaupthing, which had lent significant sums to the Tchenguiz brothers. The warrants were quashed due to misrepresentation by the investigators.
Grant Thornton was appointed by the bank’s creditors to recover missing funds, and the accountancy firm’s reports were key to the SFO’s original investigation.
According to The Daily Telegraph, which has followed the case extensively, Tchenguiz’s latest claim alleges that the SFO did not tell the court about the potential conflicts of interest in the Grant Thornton information that was used against him and his brother.
AccountingWEB’s Mad Lemming blogger, Jeff Lampert, has also been following the case, and drew parallels to the Tchenguiz brothers’ experiences and his own as chairman of Heritage plc, which was put into the hands of Grant Thornton administrators in 1995. At both companies, questions were raised about questionable inter-company loans and the firm was alleged to be less than transparent in its dealings with the businesses and their creditors. Further allegations were raised by Tchenguiz’s solicitors in a letter to Grant Thornton now circulating online.
“This could have been avoided. The ICAEW should have been aware of Grant Thornton’s behaviour and the FSA has refused to release a report to me on the firm’s activities at Heritage plc,” said the blogger. “Now the taxpayer could be facing a £200m bill.”
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