BCCI creditors set for pay-out

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More than 38,000 UK creditors of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) are set to receive compensation totalling $600m following a key ruling in the Luxembourg courts yesterday, nearly four years after BCCI's closure.

The payment will represent a first payment of 20 per cent of creditors' claims, which in the UK total $3bn. Thirty local councils owed a total of £82m by BCCI will share in the pay-out. Worst hit was the Western Isles council which lost £24m.

Under an agreement between BCCI's liquidators, Touche Ross, and the bank's majority shareholder, the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, creditors will receive a first dividend in 19950201 and further payments over the next three years so that they will finally receive30-40 per cent of claims.

Depositors will receive payments subject to compensation they have already received from the Bank of England's deposit protection scheme, which paid out up to 75 per cent of their claims up to a limit of £15,000.

The deal is still vulnerable to an appeal in the Luxembourg courts, where BCCI was registered, and the liquidators are waiting until April before assuming the payments are on.

This is because in 1993 a group of creditors scuppered a similar deal on the grounds that it favoured Abu Dhabi at the expense of ordinary depositors.

Touche Ross is cautiously hopeful there will not be a further appeal since the creditors' complaints were accommodated in the present deal.

BCCI was shut by banking regulators in July 1991 after the discovery of years of multi-billion dollar fraud. In 1992 Touche Ross started talks over a compensation deal for its 250,000-odd creditors world-wide, who have lodged claims of $10bn.

This first deal was backed by courts in the UK, Cayman Islands and Luxembourg - the countries where BCCI was registered. Then in 1993 it was successfully appealed against in Luxembourg by the Depositors Protection Association (DPA),representing 1,000 BCCI depositors. Yesterday a spokesman for the DPA welcomed the new agreement.