Spread-Betting Firm Accuses British Tycoon Robert Tchenguiz of Skipping Out on £6.5M Debt

Posted on: August 26, 2022, 12:09h. 

Last updated on: August 26, 2022, 02:53h.

Robert Tchenguiz reportedly had everything going for him, including a lifestyle that allowed him to purchase a Ferrari F40 and a £20-million (US$23.55 million) townhouse in London. A new battle with a spread-betting firm may, to a certain degree, explain how he accumulated his wealth.

Robert Tchenguiz
Robert Tchenguiz outside a London court earlier this year. The high-profile investor and entrepreneur faces a multimillion-dollar lawsuit over failed financial spread bets. (Image: Alamy)

The flamboyant 61-year-old entrepreneur and securities dealer had a lifestyle he needed to keep up. For years, he lived in the townhouse with his then-wife and his mistress, according to the Daily Mail.

The real estate investor ran into some bad luck after some of his hedges didn’t go as he intended. Tchenguiz, who was once one of Ladbrokes’ biggest clients, gambled heavily on the price of different companies, one of which failed miserably. It left him £6.5 million (US$7.6 million) in the hole with trading platform IG Index, which is now suing him for the money.

Not My Debt

IG Index allows people to hedge their money on the price of stocks and other financial vehicles through spread betting. Tchenguiz connected with the company in 2019, ready to further his billionaire lifestyle.

In order to do so, he bet big on the price of Scotland-based FirstGroup, which owns several transportation companies and trades on the London Stock Exchange. At the time, FirstGroup was trading at £1.30 (US$1.53). But with the onset of COVID-19, it dropped to £0.32 (US$0.38). Currently, the stock sits at £1.125 (US$1.32).

With some firms, clients receive special authorization to extend their account status to a deficit when prices drop. This is with the understanding that they are professional investors who can cover the losses in the event things don’t turn around.

When the price hit its low point, IG Index closed Tchenguiz’s account, leaving him with a negative balance. As a result, the company is now suing him for the losses, plus £592,000 (US$696,132) in interest.

Tchenguiz has no intention of paying the debt. Instead, he asserts that, in accordance with Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules, he was a “retail client” and therefore, not responsible for the money. A request for input from the FCA didn’t receive a response before press time.

Other spread betting firms may go after Tchenguiz as well. The Daily Mail indicated that he may have opened accounts with a number of different companies, and at least one more has already surfaced.

If there are others, and if they all performed as poorly as the IG Index account, then there is possibly a list of firms looking for compensation.

Writing On the Wall

IG Index’s lawsuit follows a similar suit Tchenguiz recently wrapped up and which didn’t go well for him. That case may have helped give IG Index more confidence to move forward with its own lawsuit.

CMC, another spread betting firm, sued Tchenguiz for failing to pay an outstanding debt on accounts he had with the company. In that case, the investments also targeted FirstGroup.

The loss was significantly less compared to what IG Index has requested. When the case went to court, Tchenguiz argued that CMC had miscategorized his client status, which caused the deficit, and that it didn’t warn him of the risks.

Tchenguiz, who contemplated buying London’s Trocadero in 2005 and turning it into a resort and casino, didn’t find any sympathy in the legal system. At the end of June, a judge ordered him to pay £1.31 million (US$1.53 million) to CMC. If that outcome is any indication, IG Index may have a case.

Tchenguiz is already appealing the CMC court loss.