A UK judge said Friday he saw no reason why three former British bankers could not face trial in the United States over alleged fraud charges involving Enron executives.
Judge Nicholas Evans told a hearing at Bow Street Magistrates Court in London that there was a good basis for the three to be prosecuted in the United States.
“There is a good and proper basis for prosecuting them in the U.S., ” the judge said. He said the process of extradition was necessary in a democratic society and he did not consider that it breached their human rights.
His recommendation now goes to David Blunkett, the British Home Secretary.
The three Britons, Gary Mulgrew, Giles Darby and David Bermingham, who formerly worked for NatWest Bank which now part of Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, will appeal.
Bermingham told reporters after the hearing that they planned to appeal to the High Court and had 14 days to do so.
They three have been fighting extradition to the United States over allegations they conspired with Enron executives, including former finance chief Andrew Fastow, over the sale of a stake in an Enron entity in 2000.
The extradition order comes under new UK legislation, in force since January this year, which was designed to speed up the extradition of suspected terrorists.
If extradited, the three have argued they could face bankruptcy and up to 35 years in prison if found guilty.
U.S. prosecutors have accused the three of seven counts of “wire fraud” through the U.S. banking system and are seeking to extradite them for trial in Houston, Texas.
The three, who deny the allegations, want their case heard in Britain and have said they are willing to comply with any investigations.
They are each alleged to have made 1.5 million pounds ($2.7 million) after selling an interest held by Greenwich NatWest, a unit of NatWest, in an Enron entity at a cheap price, pocketing the difference.
The U.S. case against them is based on information they gave to Britain’s financial