LONDON - The liquidation of Bank of Credit and Commerce International could gain an assist from the U.S. indictments this week against Washington lawyers Clark Clifford and Robert Altman.
The legal process could uncover information useful to creditors of the closed bank, said Brian Smouha, a BCCI liquidator in Luxembourg.
The federal and New York State charges against Mr. Clifford and Mr. Altman centered on their alleged knowledge of illegal links between BCCI, which was closed last year, and First American Bankshares of Washington.
Mr. Smouha, who has negotiated a plan to compensate BCCI's worldwide creditors in part with funds from BCCI's majority shareholders in Abu Dhabi, said the liquidators would try to recover funds wherever possible, if costs were not too high.
A related plea bargain between Kamal Adham, a Saudi Arabian businessman, and the New York district attorney was "of great interest to us," Mr. Smouha said.
Mr. Adham will cooperate with U.S. prosecutors as part of the guilty plea. He admitted failing to disclose the true identity of New York board members of First American Bank and using false information to obtain licenses to operate U.S. banks.
Other indictments were handed up against BCCI's founder, Agha Hasan Abedi, chief executive Swaleh Naqvi, and business associates Faisal Saud Fulaij, Ghaith Pharaon, and Sayed Jawhary.
Aid to Liquidation
Information gained from these criminal actions "can only do good for the liquidation," said Mr. Smouha.
A document seeking creditors' views on the compensation plan will be distributed in about 10 days, he said. A Luxembourg judge has ordered the liquidators to determine creditors' opinions by October, at which time a hearing is scheduled on approving the plan.
Some creditors have attacked the compensation offer, which includes an initial $1.7 billion contribution from Abu Dhabi, as too little, too late.
Mr. Smouha said the terms are not perfect but are the best that can be achieved under difficult circumstances.
A rejection by creditors could lead to years of litigation or renegotiations with Abu Dhabi, he added. Abu Dhabi officials have repeatedly said the plan is not open for renegotiation. British and Cayman Island courts have approved the compensation plan.