NatWest 3 lose extradition battle


Three British bankers will be sent to the US to face Enron-related fraud charges after the European Court of Human Rights refused to block their extradition.

David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew could face charges in Houston, Texas, in three weeks time for defrauding millions from their former employer, Royal Bank of Scotland Group's Greenwich NatWest unit, in the sale of an Enron partnership known as "Swap Sub".

The trio were charged with seven counts of fraud in 2002 for allegedly taking $7.3 million (£4 million) from Greenwich NatWest.

The high court in London rejected their appeal last week.

Sir Digby Jones, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, called on the government to stop the extradition and defend the human rights of British citizens being "abused".

"These three men represent no threat to society yet they will still be banged up in a US prison with rapists and drug addicts, deprived of their liberty for up to two years even while a case is compiled against them," he said.

The trio could each face more than 20 years in prison if convicted on all counts, while in the short term could be forced to endure as long as two years in a high-security prison awaiting trial.

US courts consider the trio "fugitives from justice", although Mr Bermingham, Mr Darby and Mr Mulgrew deny the charges.

Business leaders are planning to march from St James' to the Home Office in protest today as the US Department of Justice seeks its latest victims responsible for the Enron disaster.

Former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay and former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling were convicted last month of fraud and conspiracy with Enron's collapse in 2001. They each face at least 25 years in prison.

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