NatWest Three given year to prepare defence


Former British bankers known as the "NatWest Three" have a year to prepare their defence over their alleged conspiracy with Enron executives to embezzle $19 million, a US judge said in a preliminary hearing in Houston yesterday.

US district judge Ewing Werlein rejected a defence motion from lawyers representing David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew, asking him to throw out the case because of possible bias.

He said his connections with his former law firm, Vinson & Elkins, implicated in the case, would not prejudice him, as he severed ties with it over a decade ago.

Possible trial dates were set for February 5th and September 4th, 2007.

But with evidence still to be gleaned from the Royal Bank of Scotland and from witnesses in the UK, defence lawyers said preparations for the case could take a year and that a later hearing was necessary.

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