[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Saturday, 15 July 2006, 03:19 GMT 04:19 UK
NatWest Three bailed by US court
Gary Mulgrew
David Bermingham (C) and Giles Darby (R) paid US$100,000 bail
Three former NatWest bankers extradited to the US on fraud charges arising from the Enron collapse have been bailed.

The men were released until next Friday but on the condition that they are tagged and remain in Houston. They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew will hear the full conditions of bail on 21 July. Their lawyers have argued they should return to the UK.

Their extradition has sparked a row in the UK over US powers to extradite.

Legal costs

As well as being electronically tagged and having their passports taken away, the three men - dubbed the NatWest Three - had to pay sums of cash to secure their freedom.

(L-R) Giles Darby, David Bermingham and Gary Mulgrew

While Mr Bermingham and Mr Darby each posted bail of US$100,000 (54,400), Mr Mulgrew put up US$20,000 plus shares in Glasgow Celtic football club.

Each man's lawyer made the case at Friday's hearing that they must be allowed to return to England to work in order to support their families and pay for legal costs.

Their defence case could take as long as two years to prepare.

But the prosecutor opposed their return to England, saying it could mean further extradition proceedings.

'Probable cause'

Prosecutors say that in 2000, the three men advised their former employer NatWest to sell part of a company owned by collapsed US energy giant Enron for less than it was worth.

They then left the bank and bought a stake in the company before selling it on at a significantly higher price, and making a huge profit, it is claimed.

They have been fighting extradition since they were arrested in 2004.

They say that extradition laws are unfair because the Americans have yet to ratify a treaty between the two countries.

The US only needs to outline an alleged offence and provide "evidence or information that would justify the issue of a warrant for arrest in the UK".

But British police must provide American courts with evidence of "probable cause" if they wish to extradite someone.

Mr Darby, from Lower South Wraxall in Wiltshire, Mr Bermingham, from Goring in Oxfordshire, and Mr Mulgrew, from Brighton in East Sussex, are accused of defrauding NatWest of over 1m each.

If they are found guilty, they face up to 35 years in jail.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
David Bermingham's lawyer gives a statement



RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific