Tchenguiz brothers arrested in Kaupthing investigation

Simon Bower – Telegraph.co.uk March 9, 2011

Nine people, including property tycoons Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz, have been arrested over the collapse of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

More than 130 police swooped on two business properties and eight residential addresses in a series of dawn raids on Wednesday, arresting seven men aged between 42 and 54. They are being interviewed at police stations in central London. Two further arrests were made in Reykjavik.

Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz issued a joint statement, confirming that they had been detained.

“We were arrested earlier this morning and are being questioned with regard to matters relating to our relationship with Kaupthing Bank. Both of us are co-operating fully with the investigation and are confident that, once concluded, we will be cleared of any allegation of wrongdoing,” they said.

The brothers had been expected to host a party on board a yacht in Cannes on Thursday evening, at the MIPIM property trade show. Vincent owns a 40-metre luxury yacht named Veni, Vidi, Vici, while his younger brother owns a 45-metre vessel called My Little Violet.

It is understood that Armann Thorvaldsson, who was head of Kaupthing’s UK business, Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander, and Sigurdur Einarsson, Kaupthing’s London-based former executive chairman and chief executive, have also been arrested along with the Tchenguiz brothers. Both are also believed to deny wrongdoing.

Einarsson was last year named as a wanted man by Interpol before agreeing to travel from London to Iceland to answer questions in a separate inquiry into allegations of market manipulation at Kaupthing that is being conducted by Icelandic special prosecutor Olafur Hauksson. Einarsson denies these allegations.

Two years ago Thorvaldsson published a book, called Frozen Assets, which promised to explain “how one man, one bank and one country experienced and affected the course of world economic history”.

Privately, Thorvaldsson accepts that Kaupthing took big bets on Robert Tchenguiz operations but insists at no point was the Mayfair tycoon treated as anything more than a valued client.

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