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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 April, 2005, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Enron charge bankers win review
Enron building
Enron went bankrupt in 2001
Three UK bankers facing fraud charges connected to the Enron scandal have won their first battle to avoid being extradited to the US.

David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby have been given permission by the High Court to challenge their treatment by the Serious Fraud Office.

They are now to launch a judicial review of a decision by the SFO not to prosecute them in Britain.

The men face automatic extradition unless the SFO handles their case.

This is due to one of the terms of the Extradition Act of 2003.

'Secret investment'

The three men all formerly worked for Greenwich NatWest, the capital markets division of NatWest bank.

This is the first time the legal profession has properly grappled with the inherent flaws in the Extradition Act
David Bermingham

They are accused of conspiring - in conjunction with two senior Enron officials - to defraud Greenwich NatWest by secretly investing in an "off-balance sheet" Enron partnership.

They continue to protest their innocence.

Their barrister, Alun Jones QC, argued before the High Court that the alleged offences involved UK citizens against a UK company, and therefore the SFO should handle the case in Britain.

In addition, he said, any trial in the US would take place in "hostile circumstances" for the three men.

The SFO has argued that there is insufficient grounds for an investigation into the matter in the UK.

'Inherent flaws'

Lord Justice Laws said "the matters should be looked at fully in a judicial review".

Mr Bermingham said he was "delighted" by the ruling.

"This is the first time the legal profession has properly grappled with the inherent flaws in the Extradition Act and the clear dangers that it presents to UK citizens," he said.

"The dangers arise when extradition is demanded without evidence and where prosecuting authorities here are seeking to avoid any responsibility to determine whether it would be appropriate for the allegations to be investigated here."

Former US energy giant Enron went bankrupt in 2001 after it emerged it had hidden hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.




SEE ALSO:
Enron-charge bankers seek ruling
15 Feb 05 |  Business
UK bankers face Enron extradition
15 Oct 04 |  Business


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