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Bank probe pair vow to clear names

Two of Britain's wealthiest property magnates have vowed to clear their names after being arrested as part of an international fraud investigation into a failed Icelandic bank.

Billionaire brothers Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz were questioned after police and Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigators swooped on their multimillion-pound London headquarters at dawn.

They were among seven men arrested in the city as 135 officers took part in a major investigation into the collapse of Kaupthing bank, one of three Icelandic banks which failed at the height of the credit crunch in October 2008. Two more suspects were being questioned in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik in a simultaneous operation.

The brothers are thought to have been left heavily exposed to the failure of Kaupthing and were understood to have been among the bank's largest clients.

They are reportedly seeking to get a £2 billion lawsuit filed against Kaupthing and to be recognised as creditors of the bank, despite the fact that both are said to have owed millions in loans to Kaupthing at the time of its collapse.

The Tchenguiz brothers said they were "co-operating fully", adding they were confident of being "cleared of any allegation of wrong-doing".

In a statement, the pair, who amassed a fortune investing in property and leisure, said they were being questioned with regard to "matters relating to our relationship" with the 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 added.

The arrests were made after two business properties and eight residential addresses were searched in the London area. The SFO said those arrested were aged between 42 and 54.

There was a heavy presence of City of London Police officers at the brothers' offices near Hyde Park throughout Wednesday morning. A police van was parked outside one of two businesses believed to belong to the pair, a street away from the Dorchester Hotel.

Uniformed City of London Police officers were seen coming and going from Leconfield House, Curzon Street, and 5 Curzon Square, with black bin liners.

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