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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 July 2006, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Enron trial decision under fire
(L-R) Giles Darby, David Bermingham and Gary Mulgrew
The men say they are innocent and should be tried in the UK
Opposition and business leaders have criticised the attorney general's decision to refuse a UK trial for three British bankers wanted in the US.

Lord Goldsmith said he saw no basis for the Serious Fraud Office to change its decision to leave the case with the US.

But Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said it was a "dereliction of duty" by the government.

Shadow home secretary David Davis added that it showed extradition laws between the US and the UK were "one-sided".

Richard Lambert, director general of the CBI, said there was "terrific anger and terrific concern" about the decision.

He told the BBC's Sunday AM programme that the business community were worried about the impact it would have on other cases.

David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby are accused of, in 2000, advising NatWest to sell part of an Enron company for less than it was worth.

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.

'Imbalanced'

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

The men have said they are innocent and should be tried in the UK as that is where the allegations arise from.

Mr Bermingham said the situation was "pretty grim".

"I'm just enormously disappointed, I feel terribly let down particularly by the Attorney General and Baroness Scotland," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

He said they had little chance of defending the case from Texas, and would have to spend up to US$2m (1m) each to fight it from there.

Sir Menzies said the decision to block their request showed a lack of concern by the government for its citizens.

It is hard to imagine a greater dereliction of that duty than Labour is apparently willing to see
Sir Menzies Campbell

"The primary obligation of any government is to protect the interest of its citizens and to ensure that their rights are fully respected.

"It is hard to imagine a greater dereliction of that duty than Labour is apparently willing to see. This government has been found wanting."

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.

Mr Davis said the extradition arrangement was "imbalanced".

'White-collar crime'

"It is clearly the case that before anybody can be extradited from America to the United Kingdom you have to be able to effectively make the committal case, just as you would to take somebody to trial here," he told the BBC.

"The other way round all they have to do, effectively, is to tell us the facts of the case, no more than that."

Shadow Attorney-General, Dominic Grieve, added the government had promised the agreement was "aimed at dealing with terrorism" when it was passed.

I think it is a really unfair distortion to try to pretend that this is anything other than a situation which has been fairly and properly dealt with
Baroness Scotland

"The very point about white-collar crime was flagged-up and [the minister] was terribly reassuring about this and said 'oh no, no these aren't the sort of people we're aiming at'. The necessity was post-9/11 terrorist requirements."

But in a letter to Mr Grieve, who had raised concern over the men's threatened extradition, Lord Goldsmith said the alleged fraudulent benefit derived from funds paid by Enron, a US company.

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

'Fair and appropriate'

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, added the decision was the "fairest and most appropriate thing for our country".

"I think it is a really unfair distortion to try to pretend that this is anything other than a situation which has been fairly and properly dealt with, both by the administration and by the courts in this country," she said.

"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".


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

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