[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 8 July 2006, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
UK trial for Enron trio rejected
(L-R) Giles Darby, David Bermingham and Gary Mulgrew
The men say they are innocent and should be tried in the UK
The attorney general has rejected calls for three British bankers wanted in the US over the collapse of energy giant Enron to be tried in the UK.

Lord Goldsmith said he saw no basis for the Serious Fraud Office to re-consider its decision to leave the ex-NatWest bankers' case to the US authorities.

David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby are accused of a fraud allegedly involving millions of pounds.

The men have said they are innocent and should be tried by a UK jury.

It is alleged that in 2000 they advised their then employer NatWest to sell part of an Enron company for less than it was worth.

Tory warning

Prosecutors say 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.

Enron collapsed in 2001 after admitting inflating profits and hiding debts.

The American case was advanced and it was in the overall interests of justice for it to be dealt with by one court
Lord Goldsmith
Attorney General

The men deny any criminal conduct and have always insisted any case against them should be tried in England because that is where the allegations arise from.

Shadow attorney general Dominic Grieve wrote to Lord Goldsmith warning that their threatened extradition risked bringing the criminal justice system into disrepute.

But in a letter to Mr Grieve, Lord Goldsmith pointed out that the alleged fraudulent benefit derived from funds paid by Enron, a US company.

He said: "Investigations had begun in the USA and there had been no complaint by anyone in this country.

"The American case was advanced and it was in the overall interests of justice for it to be dealt with by one court."

Controversial case

Lord Goldsmith said the Serious Fraud Office decided not to launch an investigation because "the main evidence was in the USA" and "the alleged fraud could not have occurred without the complicity of the Enron executives".

The Home Office Minister, Baroness Scotland, defended the attorney general's decision.

The information I have had back from the US lawyers is that the bail bond they are going to have to put up is an enormous sum of money, probably in the region of a million dollars
Solicitor Mark Spragg

"There are co-conspirators in America who assert - whether it's true or not of course we cannot be sure until there's a trial - that the three British citizens were involved in that conspiracy.

"A large part of the evidence is in America and that's what was discussed in our courts."

The men's solicitor, Mark Spragg, said the attorney general's decision would "send a shiver down the backs of anybody in corporate finance or in the City, anyone who had anything to do with America".

He also said it was likely the three British men would have to be held in remand in the US because of the large bail bond that would probably be required.

"The information I have had back from the US lawyers is that the bail bond they are going to have to put up is an enormous sum of money, probably in the region of $1m."

The case has proved controversial because the men are set to be sent to the US under an agreement that allows US courts to secure the extradition of British subjects without providing evidence they have a case to answer.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the men who face extradition to the US



SEE ALSO
Enron UK three face trial in US
27 Jun 06 |  Business
Enron trio fail to secure appeal
21 Jun 06 |  Business
Enron trio lose extradition fight
21 Feb 06 |  Business
Enron charge trio plan long fight
25 May 05 |  Business

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