Billion pound lawsuit

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A property tycoon has launched a huge lawsuit in the High Court as he seeks to gain £2.2billion pound in compensation for irreparable damages to his reputation and business.

Vincent Tchenguiz

UK-based property mogul Vincent Tchenguiz said on Thursday he had filed a 2.2 billion pounds ($3.5 billion) lawsuit against accountancy firm Grant Thornton, Icelandic bank Kaupthing and three individuals in the High Court.

The lawsuit alleges they conspired to instigate a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into him and his business activities, which was subsequently dropped in 2012 after a series of blunders.

Tchenguiz's brother Robert, who was also investigated by the SFO and briefly arrested in 2011 alongside Vincent, told Reuters by email that he would join the lawsuit.

Iranian-born Vincent and Robert, who are well known in London's high society, have said that the botched SFO investigation linked to the 2008 collapse of Kaupthing caused lasting damage to their reputations and businesses.

Earlier this year, they settled a 300 million pound damages claim against the SFO, which averted a civil trial and a further public airing of the agency's handling of the case, with a 4.5 million pound out-of-court deal.

The individuals named in Tchenguiz's latest claim are Stephen John Akers, Hossein Hamedani and Johannes Runar Johannsson. Akers and Hamedani are both partners at Grant Thornton, while Johannsson is an Icelandic lawyer. The failed Icelandic bank had financed Vincent Tchenguiz to the tune of 1.7 billion pounds.

"Grant Thornton UK LLP, Steve Akers and Hossein Hamedani deny all of the claims made," said a Grant Thornton UK LLP spokesman. "We have all acted appropriately and in accordance with our professional responsibilities and legal obligations throughout. After years of speculation in the media, we will now have the opportunity to defend ourselves through the court process."

Kaupthing said neither the bank nor Johannsson had received any communication about the claim. In an email, the bank added that the allegations had "absolutely no basis in fact or in law" and would be very vigorously contested.

After the SFO dropped its investigation, the Tchenguiz brothers blamed "external influences" for the events that led to their arrest and said they would pursue those they said were responsible and liable for the damage caused.

Soon after they were detained in 2011, Bank of America Merrill Lynch recalled a 124.6 million pound loan to Vincent Tchenguiz's Peverel Group, pushing the property management business into administration.

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