Five years on, BCCI creditors get 24% payout

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The Independent Online
Long-suffering creditors of the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International are to receive their first dividend of 24.5p in the pound on 10 December, it emerged yesterday.

The payout will have taken more than five years since BCCI collapsed in the summer of 1991 with debts of $10bn.

It has been held up by lengthy court procedures, but Deloitte & Touche, the liquidators, are understood to have now agreed a firm date for the dividend.

The 24.5 per cent payout is significantly more than the 20 per cent liquidators had first estimated.

A Luxembourg court approved the details of the payment proposed by Deloitte & Touche earlier this month. But the court gave its approval to the main planks of the settlement before Christmas, ending years of frustration and legal squabbling in the wake of the discovery of the record-breaking fraud.

The largest single part of the funds used to pay creditors comes from Abu Dhabi, the majority shareholder in BCCI, which has handed over $1.55bn to the liquidators as part of a $1.8bn global settlement.

About $450m has been won in a settlement with a prominent Saudi Arabian banking family, while more money has been located in the United States. Altogether about $3.3bn has been put into the pot for creditors.

There are 250,000 creditors worldwide, of whom about 40,000 are based in the UK, where the Bank of England's deposit protection scheme has paid out pounds 78m in compensation to 16,000 depositors.

However, many depositors did not come forward with claims, reinforcing suspicions that a significant part of the money at BCCI was deposited illicitly, out of the reach of the account-holders' home tax authorities.

The Bank of England initially identified 53,000 sterling accounts, but only 40,000 left contact addresses, and in the end only 16,000 made claims.

The BCCI collapse led to the largest investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, which has so far resulted in four convictions, including that of Syed Ziauddin Ali Akbar, head of the bank's overseas treasury division, who was extradited from France and sentenced to six years in prison in September 1993.

Deloitte & Touche has come under fire for the size of the fees generated for the liquidators and lawyers involved in the search for the money.

Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, attacked fees of $285.6m paid up to January to Deloitte & Touche and to Lovell White and Durrant, its lawyer.