Three British bankers facing extradition to the U.S. on Enron Corp.-related fraud charges accused the U.S. government of using the proceedings as a weapon to pressure the men into implicating senior Enron officials in the alleged crimes.
David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby were indicted on seven counts of wire fraud by a Houston court in 2002. U.S. federal prosecutors claim the men used an Enron off-the-books partnership to defraud their employer, Greenwich NatWest, now part of Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, of $7.1 million. The men have denied the charges and are fighting extradition to Texas.
“The charges were brought for the collateral purpose of advancing the case against the American Enron targets,” said Alun Jones QC, one of the bankers’ lawyers, told District Judge Nicholas Evans at Bow Street magistrates’ court in central London.
The hearing is the first held under a 2003 treaty that dropped the rule requiring the U.S. to make a case when it seeks a U.K. citizen. A ruling against the three men may make it easier for U.S. authorities to extradite businessmen that local regulators choose not to charge or pursue.
In June, Evans rejected arguments that the men should be tried in Britain and ruled that the alleged offences qualify for possible extradition.
Human Rights Violation
Jones claimed today that extradition to the U.S. would violate the men’s rights to privacy and a fair trial under the European Convention on Human Rights.
He also accused the U.K. authorities of neglecting their statutory duties in failing to conduct a “genuine” investigation of the alleged fraud against Greenwich NatWest. The bank hasn’t filed a complaint against the men, Jones said.
“They are subjugating the administration of an important part of our criminal justice process to a foreign authority and there is nothing we can do about it,” said Jones.