Is Vincent Tchenguiz the greatest legal mind of his generation? Almost certainly not. But his determination, evocative of a children’s game show contestant, is formidable.
Indeed, since being wrongfully collared by the SFO in early 2011 as part of their investigation into Kaupthing, the failed Icelandic bank, Tchenguiz has treated the hallowed workshop of British justice as his private version of Fun House, the 90s after-school TV hit that reflected a generation’s E-number giddiness. In the place of mulleted perma-enthusiast Pat Sharpe, a team of luxuriantly wigged QCs have watched Tchenguiz charge gleefully through the courts, snatching up legal goodies. Read more
Don’t ask the SFO, or accountants Grant Thornton, for that matter.
Here’s a long, angry letter sent by the Vincent Tchenquiz camp some months ago to Grant Thornton, forming part of the furious legal dispute between the Tchenguiz Brothers and the SFO.
At the bottom of page 19 you’ll find a section headed “Sainsbury’s proceeds.” It is allegedly the case that when the financial cops pounced — acting on information from GT, who were handling the unwinding of Iceland’s Kaupthing — neither the SFO or GT really understood how the modern stock market works. Read more
Grant Thornton, the liquidators of Allen Stanford’s business empire, will be permitted to draw down up to $20m of the $100m of assets currently frozen in London, a judge has ruled, the FT reports. Mrs Justice Gloster, sitting at London’s Central Criminal Court, ruled that the liquidators of Antigua-based Stanford International Bank can use the funds to launch legal action against third parties and to market and sell property assets once owned by the cricket-loving tycoon, who has been accused of orchestrating a multibillion-dollar fraud, which he denies. Initially some $5m of the assets, which are partly tied up in London hedge fund accounts, will be drawn down by the liquidators, who can access up to $20m of funds in total. Grant Thornton, which came on board as liquidator to SIB in May, has already received approval from an ad hoc creditors’ committee for its action plan aimed at helping realise value from Antiguan assets for the victims of the alleged Ponzi.
OSS, the UK’s top recycler of waste lubricating and fuel oils, has been put up for sale by its private equity owner three years after the company won a landmark legal battle against new regulation, reports the FT. Dunedin, the mid-market buy-out group, received several unsolicited approaches from bidders for OSS and has hired Grant Thornton to advise on options for the company, which it bought 10 years ago for £15m. It is likely to be put up for sale for £50m.
Grant Thornton Hong Kong and the accountant’s international network face potentially damaging fresh claims over an alleged multi-million dollar fraud committed by a former managing partner in the city. According to allegations in a new writ filed in Hong Kong last Friday, Grant Thornton HK and Grant Thornton International are “vicariously liable” for a $10.3m fraud allegedly committed by Gabriel Azedo, whose whereabouts are unknown. The writs may test the international structure of accountancy firms, which have sought to ringfence local operations.
Lloyds Banking Group was chasing debts and investments of more than £700m on Thursday night after the collapse of UK property developer Kenmore, reports The Times. Administrators at Grant Thornton were appointed to salvage what they could of Kenmore, a £1.8bn collection of funds and companies. The company’s debts are part of a £70bn commercial property loanbook inherited by Lloyds, now 43% state-owned, when it took over HBOS last year. The FT adds that there is talk of a possible management buy-out of part of the business.
A former lead partner of Grant Thornton Hong Kong, a member firm of accountancy network Grant Thornton International, is embroiled in a legal dispute after two clients filed writs demanding a combined $12.1m. Gabriel Azedo left Grant Thornton abruptly last month after the claimants filed their allegations, in separate writs, in Hong Kong’s high court. Grant Thornton Hong Kong, an independent legal entity from the international network, told the FT it had reported allegedly “inappropriate” conduct by Azedo to Hong Kong’s commercial crime bureau.
Basis Capital, one of Australia’s biggest hedge fund managers, is in crisis talks with creditors after banks seized and began to sell some investments linked to hard-hit US subprime mortgages, particularly the two failed Bear Stearns funds. Creditors said the $1bn manager missed margin calls on Monday for its Basis Yield Fund, and has appointed accountants Grant Thornton as restructuring advisors. Basis told investors last week that the Yield Fund fell 13.93 per cent in June, and said it was likely to stop withdrawals to prevent forced sales of assets.
The big four accounting firms face a threat to their dominance in the blue-chip audit market after Grant Thornton and RSM Robson Rhodes unveiled a merger plan to create the sector’s fifth biggest firm by revenues. It is the biggest merger in UK accounting since PwC was created in 1998. The combined firm would have had turnover of £361m last year, leapfrogging BDO Stoy Hayward to become the biggest accountant outside PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young. But its revenue is still one-third of that at E&Y, the number four firm.