THE SERIOUS Fraud Office has cleared Bank of England officials of taking bribes from executives at the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International.
Ahead of the publication of Lord Justice Bingham's report into the supervision of BCCI by the Bank of England, the SFO took the unusual step yesterday of announcing that it had not found any evidence to substantiate the corruption claims.
The claims were made to Lord Bingham by a former Pakistani military intelligence officer and accountant. His identity was protected by the judge, who referred to him as 'Mr X' in draft copies of his report.
He concluded: 'Mr X was never employed by BCCI but I formed the opinion, having heard him, that he had been on familiar terms with a number fo the leading figures in BCCI and had acquired more than a passing knowledge of its business.'
Mr X's claims were passed to the Bank of England which, while finding nothing of substance in them, viewed them so seriously as to call in the SFO, assisted by the City of London Police.
The corruption allegations centre on parties given by BCCI executives and attended by Bank of England officials in the early 1980s. At one party, Mr X told Lord Bingham last September, he saw Agha Hasan Abedi, the founder of BCCI, hand over a briefcase to a colleague.
The briefcase was then passed to two Bank of England officials at the party who left straight away. Mr X claimed that earlier he had seen inside the briefcase, which was full of dollars 100 bills.
Later, under questioning from Lord Bingham, he named four Bank of England officials as having been present at the parties. It is believed that when interviewed by the SFO, Mr X picked out two photographs of Bank officials as the men who took the briefcase.
It is those two who have been cleared by the SFO. One of them held a directorship at the Bank and has since left; the other still works there as an international adviser.
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