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Slaughter and May acts for Serious Fraud Office as it pays out £4.5m in Tchenguiz battle

Within days of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) settling the first Tchenguiz case for £3m, the agency has agreed its final pay out of £1.5m to Robert Tchenguiz drawing the case to a close today (31 July).

The SFO has settled all of the remaining civil damages claims with Robert, his investment vehicle R20 and the trustees, with the value of outstanding costs to be determined by the court. The agency will pay the settlement sum within 14 days.

The conclusion follows the SFO’s pay out earlier this week when it agreed to pay £3m to Vincent Tchenguiz and a further £3m towards costs. The agency will pay a total of £4.5m to both brothers so far – a stark reduction from the lawsuit that was originally for around £300m, after both brothers claimed the agency made serious mistakes in its investigation of their role in the collapse of Icelandic bank Kaupthing, of which they were executives.

The final settlement comes three months ahead of the initial trial that was scheduled to commence in October 2014, and also means that the pre-trial review that was set to occur today (31 July) will no longer take place.

Stephenson Harwood commercial litigation partner Sean Jeffrey represented both tycoons’ personal interests and their investment vehicles for misfeasance in public office, as well as trespass, wrongful arrest, human rights breaches and malicious prosecution. Jeffrey replaced Shearman & Sterling rated litigation partner Jo Rickard who previously represented property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz.

SFO director David Green CB QC said: ‘I am pleased that we have been able to resolve this final outstanding matter, without the need for a costly trial. As I said when Mr Vincent Tchenguiz accepted our offer last week, the SFO deeply regrets the errors for which we were criticised by the High Court in July 2012. On behalf of the SFO, I also apologise to Robert Tchenguiz for what happened to him.  I reiterate that the SFO has changed a great deal since March 2011, and I am determined that the mistakes made over three years ago will not be repeated.’

Slaughter and May represented the Serious Fraud Office with a team led by disputes and investigations partner Jonathan Cotton with disputes and investigations Sarah Lee and who were supported by a team of associates including Ella Williams, Damian Taylor, Kimia Shedy, Philippa Hofbrucker, Jeremy Sher, Peter Sadler and Greg Beres.  

Counsel instructed for trial were James Eadie QC (Blackstone Chambers), Charles Graham QC (One Essex Court), Pushpinder Saini QC (Blackstone Chambers), Simon Colton (One Essex Court), James Segan (Blackstone Chambers), Katherine Hardcastle (6KBW College Hill) and Patricia Burns (One Essex Court).