Penningtons acts for Bank of India in BCCI appeal

South East firm Penningtons last week had its piece of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) pie as the Court of Appeal heard an offshoot of the case, which at the last count had generated more than £40m in legal fees.

Lovells, advising Deloitte in its capacity as BCCI’s liquidator, faced the Bank of India (BoI), advised by Penningtons. BoI was appealing against a March 2004 decision by Mr Justice Patten in which he awarded the liquidator $82m (£43.9m) in damages and interest after finding that BoI had knowingly participated in BCCI’s fraudulent trading.

The judge found that BoI chief manager for the UK and Europe KL Samant had been involved in ‘circular’ transactions between BoI and BCCI. The liquidators said, and Judge Patten agreed, that these transactions were clearly fraudulent.

In his judgment, the judge also said he regarded BoI as liable for the actions of Samant, because the bank’s head office should have investigated the transactions more thoroughly.

The appeal was launched on several grounds. BoI contended that Samant was unaware of the fraudulent nature of the transactions and that, even if he was liable for them, BoI was not.

BoI also claimed that, because BCCI was incorporated in the Cayman Islands, and there is no equivalent insolvency legislation in Cayman law as that under which this case was brought in the UK, the case should not have been brought.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment is expected in the spring.
Lovells litigation partner Hugh Lyons advised Deloitte, instructing New Square Chambers’ Charles Purle QC.

Meanwhile, Penningtons litigation partner Rustam Dubash, who is also head of the firm’s India division, represented BoI, with 3/4 South Square’s Gabriel Moss QC as counsel. In last March’s trial, Brick Court Chambers’ Jonathan Hirst QC and Andrew Lydiard QC were instructed for BoI.