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BANK OF ENGLAND WAS WARNED OF FEARS OVER BCCI IN 1984

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Bank of England officials warned privately of possible fraud at BCCI for at least seven years before it collapsed, ...
Bank of England officials warned privately of possible fraud at BCCI for at least seven years before it collapsed, according to internal bank documents seen by The Observer (Business, p1).

Despite being told BCCI was 'a disaster waiting to happen' and 'the SS Titanic', bank bosses refused to take responsibility for regulating the Middle Eastern bank, which crashed in 1991 with £7bn of undeclared debts.

The documents are among thousands that will be aired during the massive high court action brought by BCCI's creditors - including local authorities - which begins next month. Led by liquidator Deloitte & Touche, the creditor are suing the Bank of England for £1bn, accusing it of wilful negligence amounting to 'misfeasance in public office'. The bank, which was financial regulator when BCCI folded, denies the charge.

Among the bank documents creditors will cite is a 1984 memo referring to BCCI's huge borrowings as 'very worrying...It seems to me to be JMB (the recently-collapsed Johnson Matthey Bank) writ large. Another memo called Agha Hasan Abedi, BCCI's founder, 'slippery' and 'the living personification of Uriah Heep'.

The bank is also accused of using BCCI's Luxembourg registration as an excuse not to regulate it, even though most of BCCI's staff worked in the UK.

Next month's case follows a decade of pre-trial hearings and is expected to rack up a record £100m in lawyers' fees.

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