BankAmerica Asks Court To Rule on BCCI Accounts

NEW YORK - BankAmerica Corp. is asking a federal court to decide who controls $177 million in Bank of Credit and Commerce International accounts at the California gaint's international banking unit in New York.

A suit filed in Manhattan federal court by the holding company's Bank America International unit said that the New York State Banking Department and officials abroad are making conflicting claims on the money.

BankAmerica said it is not seeking to keep the money but wants to clarify who has control over it.

July 5 Crackdown

Scandal-ridden BCCI, which is being investigated for a long and varied list of alleged wrong-doings, including fraud and rug smuggling, was closed July 5 by an international group of regulators led by the Bank of England.

Following the closure, New York regulators ordered BankAmerica not to make payments out of any of BCCI accounts in New York.

However British regulators then contacted the bank and directed it to transfer all monies held in BCCI accounts to the Bank of England. A similar demand was made by Banque Generale du Luxembourgh S.A.

BankAmerica has also been contacted by other banks seeking funds from BCCI accounts. Among them is UBAF Bank Ltd., which is seeking $16.4 million, and Credit Suisse, which is seeking $2.8 million.

In a statement last week, BankAmerica said: "Due to the international nature of BCCI Holdings' operations, [BankAmerica] not only faces numerous claims and potential claims against the BCCI accounts, but also faces the daunting prospect of interpreting the laws of different nations in determining the appropriateness of the distribution of BCCI accounts."

The bank said it does not have sufficient information to evaluate these claims and cannot determine who is entitled to the money.

Separately, New York bank regulators have filed their own suit, asking a state court judge to determine who has control over the BCCI accounts in New York. Under state law, BCCI's assets here could be seized to pay its liabilities in New York. The liability figure had ot been determined.

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