Risk & Compliance

Enron’s UK Bankers Closer to US Trial

Three British bankers lose their last ditch effort to avoid a Houston trial on Enron-related charges.
Stephen TaubJune 27, 2006

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Three former Enron bankers in Britain moved closer to facing fraud charges in the US when the European Court of Human Rights refused to halt extradition proceedings Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew, and Giles Darby, former executives at Greenwich NatWest, a unit of Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, were looking for a freeze of a British court ruling so they could conduct a fuller appeal, according to the report.

U.S. prosecutors have charged that the trio convinced their employers to invest in an off-balance-sheet partnership controlled by former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow and a former senior aide, Michael Kopper. According to the Financial Times, the British bankers later persuaded Greenwich NatWest to sell its stake in the partnership for $1 million, far less than it was worth. London’s Daily Telegraph reported that the excess value was $20 million, of which $12 million was shared by Fastow and Kopper.

In February, the bankers’ extradition appeal was rejected by the British High Court, according to the Associated Press, and last week the House of Lords refused to hear their appeal.

The British Home Office had given them seven days to apply to the European Court of Human Rights.

According to the AP, the European court said in a letter to London law firm Jeffrey Green Russell that it saw no immediate cause to overturn the decision of the British courts to send the three former bankers to face trial in the US.

The wire service noted that a court official wrote that it had been decided “in the circumstances, not to indicate to the government of the United Kingdom . . . the interim measure you are seeking.”

It reportedly added that the “remaining issues, namely the merits of the application, will be examined in due course.”

“However . . . any such examination of the remaining legal issues will not stop the applicants’ proposed removal,” it further said, according to the report.

Mark Spragg, the trio’s lawyer, reportedly said: “We have now done everything possible to establish the rights of three UK citizens to be investigated and, if appropriate, prosecuted in the UK but all we have established is that UK citizens have no such rights against an extradition request made by the US.”