NatWest Three denied UK return


Three British bankers extradited to the US on fraud-related charges will not be permitted to return to the UK on bail, a Texas judge has ruled.

Although granted bail in the US in order to consult with their lawyers to help prepare their defence, David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew were deemed a "flight risk" and were denied permission to fly back to Britain.

The Houston magistrate, Judge Stephen Smith, turned down the bail hearing's request because he believed that a significant risk that US federal authorities might encounter difficulties getting the three back across the Atlantic.

Significant political opposition to Britain's extradition arrangements with the US, which critics say lacks reciprocity and is overly subservient in the US' favour, is likely to have influenced the judge's decision to prevent the three returning home.

Instead they will be forced to continue preparing for this September's trial from Texas, where they are being electronically tagged to monitor their position.

The NatWest three face up to 20 years in prison if they are found guilty of all the charges they face. It is alleged that they deliberately undervalued a company related to Enron, defrauding their former employer, Greenwich NatWest, in the process.

The three deny the charges and vigorously fought their extradition to the US.

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