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The corridors of power...

Hearing about the Bank of Credit and Commerce International is like being reminded about some ancient aunt who blackened the family name. Twelve years on, the ghastly enterprise refuses to go away.

But this is good news for BCCI’s liquidators, Deloitte & Touche, who have earned handsome fees carving up the BCCI carcass.

Indeed, insiders quip that this one assignment ‘recession-proofed’ Touche Ross, as was, through the early 1990s. The firm has charged a total of £183m since July 1991, when BCCI was shut down, and continues to charge around £10m a year for its services. It still has 100 full-time staff on the case.

John Richards, the joint liquidator, still receives applications for BCCI credit cards – presumably found lying around in the bottom of drawers and so on. A bit like Japanese soldiers emerging from the jungle after 20 years to find that the war is over.

With several legal actions pending, notably the #1bn case against the Bank of England, due to start in January 2004, the BCCI liquidation could drag on for years. Some of them never end. Work on winding up Investors Overseas Services, run by the notorious (now dead) Bernie Cornfeld, continues to this day – and IOS went bust in 1970! But at least Cornfeld gave us that immortal sales’ line: ‘Do you sincerely want to be rich?’

BCCI’s liquidators are particularly keen to strike a deal with a former Saudi official Abdul Raouf Khalil who was implicated in some of the BCCI dealings. Much of his wealth was tied up in a museum in Jeddah filled with solid gold artefacts. Inconveniently, the place burnt down last year, and the gold appears to have vapourised.

Perhaps the liquidators really do have to work for their money.

  • Jon Ashworth, business features editor at The Times.

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