According to The Daily Telegraph, Kaupthing-clients Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz were at some point negotiating with the Serious Fraud Office if they could get out of the SFO investigating claw by paying £50m to charity. Unsurprisingly, the SFO isn’t commenting nor are the Tchenguiz brothers.
According to the Telegraph: “On the eve of Robert and his brother Vincent Tchenguiz’s legal challenge against their 2011 arrests and searches of their properties, details of secret negotiations between the brothers and the SFO have emerged. It is alleged the SFO offered to announce it had dropped its investigation if Robert donated £50m to charity. The negotiations broke down after the two sides could not agree on details including the whether payments would remain confidential.”
It’s not unlikely that the brothers would gladly pay their way out of the investigation. As to the secrecy, it’s likely that it would be in their interest to keep any such deal secret. If the creditors think the brothers have 50m handy to pay the SFO the creditors might have a thing or two to say.
But is it likely that the SFO was really willing to discuss this? Maybe I’m just being naïve but it beggars belief they really did accept to discuss it. True, the SFO is in deep trouble with the house searches and arresting of Vincent Tchenguiz. However, they are pressing ahead and seem interested in pursuing the case, in spite of the brothers’ judicial review coming up this Tuesday.
Another angle to this story: has the SFO ever accepted to call off an investigation against a humongous donation to charity? A quick search on the SFO website doesn’t indicate they ever did. Which isn’t to say it’s never happened but hardly in such a prominent case as the Tchenguiz case. And hardly for such a sum.
There are also some funny angles to this supposition. Why should the brothers pay if they are innocent? And why should the SFO accept such an offer if they think they have a case against the brothers? And if they don’t have a case the brothers will come out of it squeaky clean – though their defense will cost a bit. They truly have a formidable defense team, the best money can buy. For Vincent there is former Attorney-General – and as such the head of the SFO at the time – Lord Goldsmith, QC. For Robert, a former Director of Public Prosecution Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, QC.
For those interested in Kaupthing and its favoured clients, the coming week will be a very interesting one.
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