Belfast Telegraph

Billionaire brothers face international fraud probe

By Holly Williams and Tom Morgan

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 (right) were questioned after police and Serious Fraud Office 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 that failed at the height of the credit crunch in October 2008.

Two more suspects were being questioned in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik.

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 £2bn 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.

In a statement, the pair, who are among the UK's highest-profile entrepreneurs having 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 London.

The SFO announced an investigation into suspected fraud in December 2009 surrounding UK investment in what was advertised as a "high yield" deposit account called Kaupthing Edge.