If someone were to give degrees in wisdom after the event, this summer's graduation list in BTYS (Banking-Told-You-So) would run to several telephone directories. Since the Bank of England closed the doors of Bank of Credit and Commerce International (alternatively known as the Bank of Corruption and Cocaine International) in July, the rush of people claiming to have known all about it years ago has become a flood.
Among the latest to claim that he spotted early warning signs is a City broker who was mistakenly sent the 1988 BCCI annual report and with the natural curiosity of his profession cast an eye over it. The warning signs were all too obvious from the opening pages, he says. BCCI's branches were there, neatly marked on a map of the world. The distribution was distinctly patchy, he recalls, and this made him more curious. The bank had only one branch in the world's most powerful economy, Japan, and West Germany merited a mere two.
More intriguing was the concentration of branches in Columbia. This country, whose principal foreign currency earner comes in the form of white powder, had 32 branches, holding $144 million in customer deposits - not bad for one of the world's poorest countries. In contrast, one of the richest countries, Switzerland, had deposits of only $165 million.
Our broker friend is writing to Sir Robin Leigh-Pemberton to request a first class degree in hindsight.