TWO leading international banks have been forced to get tough with Chinese clients to recover multi-million dollar foreign exchange losses. It is understood initial attempts by the banks to recover the money failed, forcing them to demand payment strongly. If payment had not been received, stop-loss orders would have been placed on the accounts. The revelation is the latest in a long line of incidents calling into question the creditworthiness of mainland companies and may strengthen calls for China's international credit rating to be downgraded. Senior US banking sources said the two banks had experienced delays meeting unpaid debts from Chinese clients at the tail end of last year. Similar problems at the end of last year forced US investment bank Lehman Brothers to take legal action against two Chinese companies to recover alleged debts totalling about US$100 million (HK$773 million). Both Goldman Sachs and Bankers Trust are understood to have resolved the problems following their get-tough stance and are continuing to trade on behalf of the enterprises. Representatives for the banks admitted there had been delays getting payment but insisted the issue had been concluded without threatening legal action. A spokesman for Goldman Sachs said: 'There have been difficulties, but we continue to do business with the clients and arrangements for repayment have been put in place.' The news other investment banks are experiencing difficulties with Chinese corporate clients is the latest in a number of cases involving alleged Chinese debts to international investors. The issue of unpaid debts is sensitive for Chinese companies and investment banks at the moment as world attention focuses on mainland creditworthiness. Lehman's is attempting to recover alleged debts from the China National Metals & Minerals Import & Export Corp (Minmetals) and China International United Petroleum & Chemicals Co (Unipec). Minmetals has hired US law firm Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler to contest the allegations and is poised to file a counterclaim against the US bank. It is understood the precedent-setting case is being closely watched by Chinese and US government officials. The Shanghai office of the China International Trust and Investment Corp (CITIC) is also facing demands from creditors for about US$40 million following alleged losses on the international futures markets. Furthermore, major Japanese banks are understood to have approached China's economic tsar Zhu Rongji and lobbied for his help in recovering alleged debts totalling about US$600 million from state-owned enterprises. In addition, British businessman Richard Gosling, who runs trading concern Zoneheath, recently won a High Court victory against the China Tianjin International Economic and Technical Cooperative Corp, China's 14th largest trading entity, for the repayment of about HK$36 million in debts. In response to the persistent problems in repaying debts, international credit rating agencies have been scrutinising China's creditworthiness and could downgrade China's international rating.