BCCI Depositors Urge U.S. To Limit Fines, Penalties

LONDON -- Depositors in the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International are urging U.S. regulators not to impose any more big fines on the bank.

The depositors fear such fines would shortchange them.

The first international meeting of a group of BCCI depositors will be held Friday in London to set strategy for what is sure to be a mammoth legal battle over the disposition of seized BCCI assets.

The group, the BCCI Depositors Protection Association, has already written to the Federal Reserve Board protesting the $200 million in fines and penalties imposed on the bank.

Worries About U.S. Plans

Adil Elias, chairman of the association, said he was concerned that American prosecutors and regulators are seeking to have fines running into several hundred millions of dollars imposed on BCCI banks.

These funds ought to be distributed to creditors, said Mr. Elias, a Florida businessman who banked with BCCI and has extensive Middle East connections.

The U.S. taxpayer is being "enriched at the expense of innocent people in other countries," he said.

In its letter to the Federal Reserve, the association contends that while BCCI is estimated to have worldwide deposits of $19 billion, those in the U.S. are calculated at only $50 million.

Central Bank Challenged

Mr. Elias also attacked the Bank of England, saying that a BCCI's principal regulator it has a "moral responsibility to all depositors who banked with a bank it regulated."

The association, which was formed last month, represents clients whose aggregate deposits with BCCI exceed $600 million, a spokesman said Wednesday.

It plans, with the help of law firms in Britain, the United States, and elsewhere overseas, to take legal action worldwide to achieve compensation.

"We have no intention of taking our losses lying down," the spokesman said.

"Most of those who placed their money with BCCI were ordinary, hardworking people," he said.

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