Property tycoons Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz have succeeded in their application for a judicial review into their arrests as part of an investigation into the collapse of Icelandic investment bank Kaupthing. Robert Tchenguiz, who formerly invested in pub companies Mitchells & Butlers and Laurel, and his brother Vincent were arrested last March and were later released without charge. The judicial review was lodged by the Tchenguiz Family Trust and companies owned by the Trust. Among its claims, the judicial review says the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) did not ask the companies involved in the investigation to voluntarily produce documents before applying for a warrant and failed to disclose certain information to the court, such as an upcoming civil case between the Trust and Kaupthing. At a hearing in the High Court yesterday, Judge Sir John Thomas and Mr Justice Silber granted a judicial review into the SFO’s conduct, and also called for the police to justify their actions, at hearings in May. The Tchenguiz brothers claimed their arrests were “excessive and disproportionate”, and the court heard that the SFO conceded, in a letter issued this week, that no arrest warrant should have been issued. The SFO blamed “simple human error”, relating to a misunderstanding that led the organisation to believe that property assets included in a £100m loan to Vincent Tchenguiz were overvalued. The SFO said it was “keen to provide an explanation for its errors and apologise”. Despite this, the SFO is to contest Vincent Tchenguiz’s judicial review of the move to retain documents seized during raids, and also his brother’s judicial review of the search warrants issued against him.

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