Saturday, July 22, 2006

See the U.S.A. in a Chevrolet

The so-called NatWest Three, British investment bankers David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew, will be residing in or around the Houston area while they await trial on fraud charges related to an Enron deal in which they are accused of defrauding their employer out of a $7.3 million gain. The extradition of the three U.K. citizens caused a major row in Parliament over the one-sided application of the treaty that only Britain has ratified but not the U.S.  After their extradition, the three defendants asked to be allowed to return to their homes, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith denied the request and ordered that they live apart from one another in the Southern District of Texas and that they not leave the United States.  In addition, the defendants must post a bond of $1 million, and cannot speak with one another without their attorneys present, an interesting condition that I don't recall seeing before in a white collar crime case.  Bermingham is quoted in a Houston Chronicle story (here) stating after the Magistrate Judge's bail decision: "This is going to be tough. We are tough people, but I'm not underestimating the difficulties we face. It might be regarded as a form of psychological torture, if you wish."  I've heard that Houston in August is not very pleasant, but I didn't know it amounted to torture, a conclusion that the Chamber of Commerce might disagree with -- then again, maybe the unavailability of fine British fare might be considered a reprieve. (ph)

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