British bankers face Thursday US extradition

17-07-2006

British bankers face Thursday US extradition
The ex-NatWest bankers accused of defrauding their former employee in the build-up to the collapse of Enron will be extradited to the US on Thursday after their final attempt to have their case heard by a UK court failed.

David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby, sometimes referred to as the NatWest three or Enron three, will report to a Sussex police station on Thursday morning before being handed over to US authorities at Gatwick airport, who will escort them to Houston, Texas.

All three men claim they are innocent of accusations they defrauded NatWest out of £12 million, £6.5 million of which was allegedly pocketed by executives at the disgraced energy giant Enron in 2001, but unless they can secure bail to return to the UK to prepare their case they face the prospect of two years in a Texan jail while they wait for the case to go to court.

The case has drawn attention to the face that under 2004's Extradition Act, UK residents can be extradited to the US but not vice versa, as the treaty has not yet been ratified by Washington.

Both lobby groups and the Conservative party have called for the men to be given the right to a fair UK trial, but last weekend the attorney general declared that there was no basis for the Serious Fraud Office to reconsider its decision that the US authorities are free to extradite them, despite the accused and victim both being British-based.

Lord Goldsmith was responding to a letter from his shadow, Dominic Grieve, who claimed that the three men had the right to a fair trial from a UK jury.

"It must be a legitimate source of public anxiety that, where the defendants are British nationals living in England and the alleged victim is a British corporation this case is not being prosecuted here," the Tory MP said.

"I would, therefore, be grateful if you would give further consideration to this matter so as to ensure that these defendants have the benefit of our own system of justice and the British public the benefit of seeing justice being done in respect of them."

Related categories: Management / Business, International / Overseas.


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