Today, the defence teams of Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz spoke in Court, in order to demonstrate that the Serious Fraud Office had been wholly wrong in its actions against the two brothers. At the end of the day, Justice Sir John Thomas summed up the difference between the cases of the two brothers: Vincent Tchenguiz claims there never was a case against him; Robert Tchenguiz claims that the SFO’s portrayal of him as someone who wouldn’t respond honestly to an order to hand over documents, necessitating an arrest and house searches, was utterly wrong and unfounded.
According to the skeleton of the Vincent Tchenguiz defence team he seeks a mandatory order quashing the search warrant; a declaration that the entries into his premises, searches and seizures were unlawful; a mandatory order to remove all those at the SFO who were involved in the action or dealt with material from it; and lastly but not least: an assessment of dammages and indemnity costs.
According to the skeleton of Robert Tchenguiz defence team Robert claims that his arrest was unlawful, bail was not necessary or proportionate, search warrants were unlawfully applied for and issued and there was failure to give any or adequate reasons, which renders the warrants unlawful. His defence points out that the Director of the SFO has now conceded that search warrants were unlawfully applied for and issued.
The brothers had made it known to certain media that much interesting stuff would be aired in court today. That was hardly the case. The weirdest news have been leaks in the media prior to the trial: first, in the Daily Telegraph, that the SFO had offered Robert to close the case against a £50m donation to a charity. The other, in FT today, that the SFO had contemplated to use undercover agents at Annabel’s, the nightclub frequented by the brothers. Both stories indicate that SFO was desperate and clueless. In order to understand these rather unflattering stories, it’s interesting to reflect on whom these leaks benefit, the media they appear in and the former reporting of these papers on the brothers.
That said, the SFO has things to answer for on mistakes made. In Court today, a note was filed on behalf of the Director of the SFO, referring to Vincent’s claim and certain mistakes made. In the note the SFO’s ongoing investigation of Robert is mentioned “and the nature of the relationship between RT and various senior executives at Kaupthing.”
For those familiar with this relationship it raises many questions. Hopefully, the SFO will be able to continue its investigation and find the answers to these questions. Whether Vincent just got unfortunately involved in this relationship, because he put up a collateral for his brother in Robert’s hour or need, or if there is a further untold story about Vincent and Kaupthing remains to be seen. The fact that the SFO chose to investigate them both, and not just Robert, indicates a certain suspicion, founded or not.
Robert wasn’t seen in court today. Vincent sat with Lisa, his sister, and some employees, and listened intently all day. The case continues tomorrow.
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