Travers Smith has secured a win against British entrepreneur Vincent Tchenguiz, as a Commercial Court judge dismissed a £2.2bn claim against Jóhannes Rúnar Jóhannsson, who had helped wind up Icelandic bank Kaupthing.
The claim was part of November 2014 suit brought by Tchenguiz and related parties against Kaupthing, Jóhannsson, Grant Thornton and two of its partners, Stephen Akers and Hossein Hamedani.
They had alleged that Akers, Hamedani and Jóhannsson conspired to pass information, dishonestly, to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), in order to instigate and encourage an investigation by the SFO into Tchenguiz and his related companies in the context of Kaupthing’s collapse in October 2008, and that they did so for their own commercial gain.
In July 2015 the Commercial Court dismissed the claim as against Kaupthing, while today (20 April), Mr Justice Knowles has dismissed the claim against Jóhannsson.
The judge said the claim had already been settled by virtue of an agreement entered into by earlier proceedings.
However a separate claim made by Robert Tchenguiz continues against Grant Thornton and its two partners Akers and Hamedani, and the same argument used by Jóhannsson is also available to the remaining defendants.
Travers Smith partner Stephen Paget-Brown (pictured), who led the team on the case said: ‘This is an important victory for Jóhannsson which, subject to any attempted appeal, brings the claim brought by Vincent Tchenguiz against both of our clients to an end.’
He added: ‘This is a claim which should never have been brought: it is clear to me that the very serious allegations made in the claim about the conduct of Jóhannsson had absolutely no basis in fact, and were pursued despite the absence of any evidence whatsoever supporting those allegations’
Paget-Brown’s team on the case also included dispute resolution partner Huw Jenkin. Travers Smith instructed 4 Stone Buildings’ Queens Counsel Robert Miles, who was supported by Jeremy Goldring QC of South Square. Tchenguiz was advised by McGuire Woods, which instructed Romie Tager QC of Selborne Chambers and David Cavender QC of One Essex Court.