Deutsche Bank complaint fails in Tchenguiz battle with UK fraud agency

LONDON, July 18 Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:38am EDT

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LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank's bid to block disclosure of confidential documents at the heart of a court battle between property tycoons Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz and the UK's top anti-fraud agency has been struck down by a London court.

The Tchenguiz brothers are suing the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for 300 million pounds ($455.2 million) in damages over the agency's botched investigation into the pair, which led to them being arrested in 2011 in a blaze of publicity.

The SFO has promised to hand over more than one million documents relating to the case, which the brothers believe will prove their arrests were groundless and so strengthen their claim for damages.

The SFO has so far produced only a small portion of the documents following technology problems and complaints from third parties who dispute their right to disclose the information.

Deutsche Bank, one of third parties involved, objected to the SFO handing over its confidential documents, telling the court that disclosure was absolutely barred in law.

Judge Henry Bernard Eder disagreed, calling Deutsche Bank's arguments "ambitious".

"They (the arguments) do not, in my judgment, go so far as to justify the implication of an absolute bar," he said in a judgment handed down on Thursday.

The ruling is binding for around 40 other entities, including a number of other banks, whose documents the SFO wants to give to the Iranian-born brothers' legal team.

Last week the SFO told the court they would not be able to hand over all the relevant documents by the court-ordered deadline of Aug. 1 because its disclosure exercise was more complicated and time-consuming than previously thought. The deadline was subsequently moved to December and the date for trial to hear the damages claim pushed back from May 2014 to October 2014.

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