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Test Case of New UK Extradition Laws make Legal History

Three former NatWest investment bankers facing possible extradition to the US over Enron-related fraud charges are to make legal history by challenging the Serious Fraud Office for failing to prosecute them in Britain.

In February 2005, David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby lodged an application for a judicial review in the High Court to question the decision of SFO head Robert Wardle not to investigate them.

Their action comes as the men await a decision by Home Secretary Charles Clarke on whether to extradite them to the US.

Prosecutors in the US claim they conspired with senior Enron officials Michael Kopper and Andrew Fastow to defraud Greenwich NatWest by secretly investing in an "off-balance sheet" Enron partnership.

The case is a test of new UK extradition laws that allow British citizens to be extradited to America without US authorities being required to present prima facie evidence against them. It is alleged the trio worked with Mr Kopper to persuade Greenwich NatWest to sell its stake in the off-balance sheet partnership for $1m (£530,000) when it was worth much more.

The US Department of Justice's indictment alleges the partnership was sold a month later for $20m, with the three British men sharing profits of about $7.3m. It has charged the three with seven counts of wire fraud. Most of the work on the alleged fraud is claimed to have been carried out in the UK and the Cayman Islands.

SFO spokesman David Jones stated that ""The investigation proceedings by the American authorities were well under way and it was not in the public interest for the possibility of a separate SFO inquiry to proceed."

The following lists all references contained in our database that are relevant to this briefing
The Daily Telegraph  [Publication date: 15/2/2005] 'Why not charge us here? say Enron case bankers' by Andrew Cave

[Date URL accessed: 27/2/2005 | Source ID = 13116]


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