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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May, 2005, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Enron charge trio plan long fight
David Bermingham, one of the three bankers accused by the US of wire fraud
Mr Bermingham has criticised terror laws being used in the extradition
The three UK men at the centre of an extradition battle with the US over their connection to the Enron scandal say they are prepared for a long fight.

Speaking a day after the UK agreed to extradite them to the US, one of the trio, David Bermingham, said they were pursuing a number of legal options.

The former NatWest executives will appeal and want to be tried in the UK.

Enron collapsed in 2001 after revealing that it inflated its profits and filed false accounts to hide debts.

Mr Bermingham and the other two members of the so-called 'NatWest Three', Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby, are among the first people to be extradited under new UK legislation brought in to speed up the transfer of suspected terrorists.

Should their High Court appeal fail, they could take their case to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights.

'Meat of the system'

The three men have consistently denied any wrongdoing and now have 14 days to appeal against the Home Office decision.

ENRON'S FALL
Oct 2001: Accounts black hole becomes public knowledge
Dec 2001: Enron admits inflating profit, files for bankruptcy
It emerges Enron used a complex web of transactions to hide debt
2002: Criminal inquiry launched
Jan 2004: Ex-finance chief Andrew Fastow pleads guilty, accepts 10-year jail term
Feb 2004: Ex-CEO Jeffrey Skilling pleads not guilty to fraud and insider trading charges
Jul 2004: Ex-chairman Ken Lay indicted

Mr Bermingham expects the appeal hearing to be set for some time towards the end of this year.

At the same time, the trio are awaiting a judicial review into why the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) decided not to prosecute. The SFO has said there were insufficient grounds for launching a case.

However, had it decided to pursue the case it would have delayed any attempt to transfer the men to the US, as any UK case takes precedence over a foreign one.

A hearing linked to the review is expected to take place in about 14 days.

"We are just getting into the meat of the system," said Mr Bermingham, who described the Home Office's decision as a political one.

Complex case

The US has accused the three men of seven counts of 'wire fraud' - illegally gaining money via international banking systems.

Enron building
Enron's collapse hammered stock markets and the US economy

According to the allegations, the three men advised NatWest in 2000 to sell part of an Enron business it owned for less than the stake was worth.

The trio then left NatWest, bought into the firm themselves and sold it off for a much higher fee, pocketing about 1.5m ($2.7m) each in the process, prosecutors say.

Mr Bermingham said that US had no right to call for their extradition as the case involves British defendants and the offences were allegedly committed against a UK company.

"The US is almost unique in the world today in being able to criminalise behaviour that has absolutely no nexus with the US whatsoever," he said.

"They can accuse somebody of breaking US law who has never set foot in the US, and they are doing it on a daily basis and they are doing it with gay abandon."


SEE ALSO:
Enron charge trio facing US trial
24 May 05 |  Business
Enron charge bankers win review
07 Apr 05 |  Business
Enron-charge bankers seek ruling
15 Feb 05 |  Business
UK bankers face Enron extradition
15 Oct 04 |  Business


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