Touche hits back at Vaz over BCCI payout delay

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The Independent Online
CHRISTOPHER Morris, head of corporate reconstruction at Touche Ross and liquidator of BCCI SA, the Luxembourg-based division of the bank, yesterday attacked calls from the MP Keith Vaz for Touche's replacement as liquidator of the bank. He denied that Touche was charging excessive fees and delaying a payout to creditors.

Mr Morris rejected Mr Vaz's statement on Tuesday in which the MP accused Touche of 'rolling around in the victims' money' and which implied that the Department of Trade and Industry had decided 'to consider the removal of Touche Ross as liquidators of BCCI'.

Mr Morris said: 'I wish to emphasise that the DTI has confirmed that no decision has been taken to consider the removal of Touche Ross as liquidator.' Instead, Mr Morris placed the blame for delays in making payouts to BCCI's thousands of UK creditors on Mr Vaz, and a small group of creditors supported by him who are appealing against a settlement of the corrupt bank's affairs in the Luxembourg courts.

The appeal will not be heard until the summer.

Mr Morris said: 'To accuse us of delay is quite irresponsible when we are prevented from making any distribution to creditors by delays in the Luxembourg court.'

This continued delay is 'is costing the liquidation up to dollars 1m per week in lost interest', Mr Morris said yesterday.

The creditors supported by Mr Vaz are challenging a settlement between Touche Ross and BCCI's majority shareholder, the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, under which creditors will receive 30p to 40p in the pound in return for dropping all legal claims against the emirate.

Mr Morris says that because of the Vaz group's appeal he has been blocked from paying out any of the dollars 800m due from Abu Dhabi in February 1992 under the proposed settlement, and that another dollars 500m from the emirate due this June will also be blocked by the Luxembourg proceedings.

Touche was charging about pounds 1m a week in liquidation fees last summer but this was now down to about pounds 700,000, Mr Morris said.

The firm has more than 200 people working on the BCCI case in the UK alone, he said.

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