Bingham BCCI report likely to blame Abu Dhabi

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THE BINGHAM report into the supervision of the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International is almost certain to contain strong criticisms of the bank's majority shareholders in Abu Dhabi for withholding for nine months vital information about the extent of fraud within the bank.

A draft of the report shown to the majority shareholders last month said that information gleaned from interviews with Swaleh Naqvi, the bank's former chief executive, in April 1990 showed that BCCI had stolen up to dollars 2.2bn from the majority shareholders themselves. The money had been transferred through the ICIC group of companies, based in the Cayman Islands, but controlled by BCCI's senior mangers.

Lord Justice Bingham showed the draft report to the majority shareholders during a visit to Abu Dhabi, at their invitation, last month. It is believed they are very unhappy about the draft report, arguing that Mr Naqvi's confession was confusing. They say that at the time they believed ICIC was a separate entity.

Relations between Britain and Abu Dhabi could be affected by the dispute if the draft is published in its present form. However, Abu Dhabi has only seen a few chapters of the draft report, the final version of which will be delivered to the Chancellor, Norman Lamont, in about two weeks.

As Parliament rises today for a long recess, a political row is likely if it is published in the summer - although this looks increasingly likely. More than 150 MPs have signed an early day motion calling for the report to be published. Lord Justice Bingham, who began his inquiry in July last year, is putting final touches to the report.

Keith Vaz, the Labour MP who has been campaigning on behalf of BCCI's creditors and former staff, said last night he would be seeking an assurance from the Leader of the House that Parliament would be recalled if the Bingham report was published and criticised the Governor of the Bank of England.