British Bankers Face Enron Related Charges
by: Capella Tucker, July 13, 2006 5:07:00 am
The three British bankers were indicted four years ago on seven counts of wire fraud. They are accused of advising their employer NatWest to sell part of an Enron business for less than it was worth. The men then left NatWest. US prosecutors say the men bought into the Enron business and when they sold it each banker made about $2.5 million. The three bankers have denied the charges. Houston defense attorney Joel Androphy says the case is drawing attention strictly because of the extradition debate in Britain.
"At the end of the day, it's no difference than any other bank fraud charge and probably at the end of the day would not have been brought but for the Enron collapse."
A new extradition treaty was drawn up between the US and the UK following the 9-11 attacks. The issue: the UK has ratified the treaty by the US has not, so critics in Britain see the extradition of the three bankers as unfair. British Consul General Judith Slater says this is the first high profile case regarding the new extradition treaty.
"In fact the standard of proof required doesn't actually alter under the treaty. The likelihood is these men would have been extradited anyway. Because it's seen in the UK by the media and others as unfair if you like, so that's why there's so much attention being paid to it."
Defense attorneys point out that neither NatWest nor Britain is pursuing a case against the bankers. University of Houston Law Center Professor Jordon Paust says for extradition, the alleged conduct has to be a crime in both countries.
"Conduct could occur mostly abroad but the alleged perpetrator could intend to produce affects in the United States or these could be foreseeable and the affects occur in the United States. That would give the United States what we call territorial jurisdiction."
A hearing for the three bankers is set for Friday at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Houston. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.