Financial and Business|

Tchenguiz company goes bust after fraud investigation announced

A major property company owned by billionaire fraud suspect Vincent Tchenguiz was last night suddenly declared bankrupt.

Mr Tchenguiz, arrested last week during an investigation by the Special Fraud Office into shady financial dealings surrounding the collapse of an Icelandic bank, was forced to place property management firm Peverel into administration. The unexpected move suggests the Tchenguiz brothers’ debt-fuelled empire is in danger of collapse.

Concerns are now being expressed by the many thousands of residents in Peverel’s apartment blocks. The move was triggered when one of Peverel’s main financiers, US bank Merrill Lynch, called in a loan of £125 million following Tchenguiz’s very public arrest along with his brother Robert last week.

The sweeping investigation into money movements immediately before the collapse of Icelandic bank Kaupthing is expected to cause more than ripples in the tight world of international finance, with global investment banks, senior Tory donors, a multi-millionaire retailer and even financial watchdogs dragged into the melee.

Yesterday, Robert Tchenguiz fired off a string of allegations against the Special Fraud Office, saying the arrests were made to justify the organisation’s existence and prevent it being merged with the new National Crime Agency. Claiming he had offered interviews with the SFO several times before his arrest, he accused the organisation of ‘disproportionate and aggressive conduct’.

Saying he believed his arrest was wrongful, Robert told reporters he had instructed his lawyer to investigate its circumstances prior to possible legal action against the SFO. His brother is also blaming the collapse of Peverel on the arrest, saying he believes Merrill Lynch’s action was the direct result of the public nature of the SFO’s investigation.

Peverel administrators are stating the operating companies running the property empire’s day-to-day management of its estates involving some 300,000 tenants will be unaffected by the changes. Peverel’s 4,300 employees are also protected at present.

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