Letter: Action to help the victims of the BCCI collapse

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The Independent Online
Sir: One year and three months after the closure of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, former depositors, creditors and members of staff of BCCI still have not received any money from what was the sixth largest private bank in the world.

Tomorrow, a Luxembourg court will be asked to approve a settlement agreement worked out by the liquidators, Touche Ross, and representatives of the sheikh of Abu Dhabi.

Although 93 per cent of those who responded to the ballot supported the agreement, the liquidators were unable to confirm to me how many ballot papers were sent out. If the court grants its approval, according to the liquidators, no money will be paid out until, at the earliest, the summer of next year, two years after the bank's closure.

Last week, US Senator John Kerry produced a scathing report on how the Bank of England dealt with the BCCI issue. So damning were its contents that I doubt whether the credibility of the bank as a regulatory authority can survive. Many ex-creditors replied to the Touche Ross ballot without having the benefit of reading what Senator Kerry said.

Unless the President of the Board of Trade intervenes in this extraordinary situation, there is a grave risk that another year will pass without the ex-creditors, depositors or former employees receiving any payments. In particular, three things must be done.

First, the Bingham report must be published immediately and in full. It has been with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Governor of the Bank of England for the past two months. Now that Senator Kerry has made his very serious allegations, only full disclosure of the report can help us get anywhere near the truth of what actually happened.

Second, the Insolvency Service must insist that a full creditors' meeting be called to elect a creditors' committee of inspection. This committee, which should include representatives of the sheikh of Abu Dhabi, should begin the process of realising the assets of the bank and begin paying out to those who have lost so much.

Third, there should be a Trade and Industry Select Committee Inquiry into the way in which this liquidation has been handled. Two million pounds a week has been spent on the costs of liquidation. The creditors and ex-depositors are unable to find out how this money is being spent. Only a dozen people have seen Touche Ross' 'secret' book of costs.

The saga of BCCI will go on for several years. What is essential, however, is that the real victims of BCCI do not continue to suffer from the failure of government agencies post-closure to act to protect their interests.

Yours sincerely,

KEITH VAZ

MP for Leicester East (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

5 October

The writer is chairman of the BCCI Campaign Committee.

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