Three British bankers accused of aiding Enron have exhausted their appeals to face trial in the United Kingdom, rather than in the United States. The men known as the NatWest 3 are scheduled to be extradited to the US later this week. They deny conspiracy to defraud NatWest of 12 million pounds, six million of which allegedly was shared by two Enron bosses.
I wrote about this story months ago, just incredulous that under the guise of "relevance to terrorism" the Bush administration could seek extradition without producing any evidence of the NatWest bankers' alleged involvement in a crime. Perhaps even more disturbingly, the British government has complied with the request. These actions raise numerous issues about Transatlantic business transactions and the Bush administration's double standards.
Many British politicians and business leaders are outraged that the British courts have refused to hear the case, subjecting its citizens to a lengthy, expensive legal process on foreign soil. The men are expected to spend up to two years in a Houston, Texas jail while the US government tries to compile evidence to actually bring them to trial.
The Bush administration considers the trio "fugitives from justice," simply because they dared to appeal their extradition through the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. The extradition is being pursued through a 2003 Treaty designed to fight terrorism. Unsurprisingly, the treaty has not been ratified in the US, effectively leaving the UK without a reciprocal legal arrangement. UK government officials are urging the US to formally ratify the treaty, as the US government is adopting the agreement as a means to extradite white collar workers.
Defense lawyers have argued the case has nothing to do with terrorism, but the British bankers are eager to defend any charges in a British court.