Three Brits plead guilty in Enron fraud case

Guardian:

A trio of British bankers dubbed the "Natwest Three" face 37 months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing $7.3m (£3.65) in a highly sophisticated transatlantic fraud tied to the collapse of the energy trading behemoth Enron.

Less than 18 months after their extradition to America prompted a political storm and allegations of injustice, the three men - David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby - abandoned their protestations of innocence at a hearing in Houston's federal courthouse.

All dressed in dark suits, the men stood before judge Ewing Werlein for the duration of a 45-minute hearing. They faced close questioning from the bench about their sobriety, mental fitness, free will and understanding of the charges.

Turning to each in turn, judge Werlein asked: "How do you plead to the charge set forth in the indictment – guilty or not guilty?"

In a clear voice, Mr Bermingham replied: "Guilty, sir." His two former Natwest colleagues echoed: "Guilty, your honour."

The men, who worked for Natwest's investment banking arm, concocted a deal in 2000 with two senior Enron executives who have since been jailed.

They recommended that Natwest sold its stake in an Enron-related venture in the Cayman Islands for a knockdown price and shared a secret profit on the side of $20m with their Enron counterparts.

Under a deal struck with the US government, the bankers owned up to only one of seven charges of wire fraud. Both sides have provisionally agreed to a penalty of 37 months in jail, although the judge has the leeway to alter this. They must also repay their ill-gotten gains of $7.3m to Natwest's owner, Royal Bank of Scotland.

...

For some reason they want to try to serve their sentence in the UK, probably because they can have weekend dates. It is interesting how for and wide the Enron fraud was, but despite all the caterwauling no one close to the President was found to be involved and it was learned that most of Enron's contributions were to Democrats.

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