Celtic boss faces 12 weeks on the stand in BCCI court saga

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The Independent Online

Brian Quinn, the chairman of Celtic football club, will have to forego Celtic Park for the High Court in London in the early part of next season.

Brian Quinn, the chairman of Celtic football club, will have to forego Celtic Park for the High Court in London in the early part of next season.

The Celtic boss is also the former head of banking supervision at the Bank of England and tomorrow begins his evidence in the case brought against the Bank by the liquidators of BCCI, the international bank which was closed down in 1991. The liquidators, Deloitte, are claiming malfeasance by the Bank for its poor supervision of BCCI before its failure.

Although the trial started at the beginning of last year, Mr Quinn will be the first witness called. The trial has been taken up so far with, first, an opening statement by Gordon Pollock QC, who is acting for the BCCI liquidators. This lasted 80 days, a record in British legal history. Mr Pollock was followed by Nicholas Stadlen QC, who is acting for the Bank. This statement was another record breaker at 120 days.

The BCCI liquidators' case involved calling no witnesses and producing no fresh documents. Mr Quinn is a witness for the Bank and will be followed by Peter Cooke, his predecessor as head of banking supervision, who was in charge when BCCI first obtained a banking licence in London, in 1979.

The court has set aside 12 weeks each for the evidence of Mr Quinn and Mr Cooke. Given that the court will break for its summer recess next month, Mr Quinn will probably be in court probably until mid-November, inhibiting his ability to travel to some Celtic games and be involved in business matters at the Glasgow club.

Mr Cooke, who is in 70s, faces questioning about events that took place more than 35 years ago, involving people who are now mostly dead.

Thousands of depositors lost money in the failure of BCCI, which has branches across Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean. The Bank is duty- bound to fight the case as, if it is found to have been at fault, this could undermine the whole of banking supervision in the UK.

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