Capital Markets

Mnuchin expected to be Trump’s Treasury secretary

Donald Trump has chosen Steven Mnuchin as his Treasury secretary, US media outlets reported on Tuesday, positioning the former Goldman Sachs banker to be the latest Wall Street veteran to receive a top administration post. Mr Mnuchin chairs both Dune Capital Management and Dune Entertainment Partners and has been a longtime business associate of Mr […]

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Financial system more vulnerable after Trump victory, says BoE

The US election outcome has “reinforced existing vulnerabilities” in the financial system, the Bank of England has warned, adding that the outlook for financial stability in the UK remains challenging. The BoE said on Wednesday that vulnerabilities that were already considered “elevated” have worsened since its last report on financial stability in July, in the […]

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Zoopla wins back customers from online property rival

Zoopla chief executive Alex Chesterman has branded rival OnTheMarket “a failed experiment”, and said that his property site was winning back customers at a record rate. OnTheMarket was set up last year, aiming to compete with Zoopla and Rightmove, the UK’s two biggest property portals. It allowed estate agents to list their properties more cheaply […]

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Hard-hit online lender CAN Capital makes executive changes

The biggest online lender to small businesses in the US has pulled down the shutters and put its top managers on a leave of absence, in the latest blow to an industry grappling with mounting fears over credit quality. Atlanta-based CAN Capital said on Tuesday that it had replaced a trio of senior executives, after […]

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BoE stress tests: all you need to know

The Bank of England has released the results of its latest round of its annual banking stress tests and its semi-annual financial stability report this morning. Used to measure the resilience of a bank’s balance sheet in adverse scenarios, the stress tests measured the impact of a severe slowdown in Chinese growth, a global recession […]

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Categorized | Property

SFO asks for more time in Tchenguiz case

Posted on February 28, 2013

The Serious Fraud Office has asked for more time to prepare its defence against the £300m damages claim being sought by the Tchenguiz brothers, the property tycoons.

In a move that is likely to irritate the judge presiding over the damages hearing, the UK’s main fraud-busting agency asked just hours before the Thursday deadline if it could have until Monday to file its defence over the largest total damages claim in its 25-year history.

    In an earlier hearing in front of Mr Justice Eder in December, the judge said he had “a golden rule . . . that is that all my orders, save in exceptional circumstances, all take effect at 5pm on Thursday. That is not some eccentricity”.

    A spokesperson for the SFO confirmed that the agency would not file its defence until Monday but declined to comment further.

    The request for more time, made to lawyers representing the Tchenguizs, comes just over a week after the SFO notified the courts that it was swapping its usual, government-provided solicitor for Slaughter and May, one of the City’s most prestigious and expensive legal firms. It also marks the latest delay in a protracted legal battle in which the SFO come under criticism for failing to stick to an agreed timeframe.

    In April last year, when the SFO asked to be given an extra six weeks to prepare its defence to a judicial review into its original investigation into the Tchenguizs, Lord Justice Thomas slammed the agency for “sheer incompetence”.

    Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz were the most recognised names in the SFO’s wide-ranging investigation into the collapse of Kaupthing, the Icelandic bank at the centre of the country’s financial crisis.

    However, the case against them deflated last year as the UK’s fraud-busting agency conceded a multitude of errors in the way it had interpreted evidence used to obtain search warrants. In January, Vincent and Robert filed damages for £200m and £100m, respectively, alleging extensive wrongdoing, including malicious prosecution and false imprisonment.

    Damages would be ultimately paid by the taxpayer, but a bill for £300m could not come at a worse time for the SFO, which has had its budget steadily cut from £52m in 2008 to the current £32m.

    It was the thinness of the agency’s resources that prompted the Lord Justice Thomas to call for better funding for the agency.

    The SFO has recently repaired its relationship with the Treasury, after initial progress in the Libor probe. The Treasury ringfenced £3.5m of extra funds to investigate the fixing of the benchmark interest rate.

    Both Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz declined to discuss the issue.