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August 12, 2006

The political implications of the NatWest Three case

Natwest three20.jpgThis earlier post focused on the political controversy that arose in the UK over the case of the NatWest Three, the three former London-based National Westminster Bank PLC bankers who are charged in Houston with bilking their former employer of $7.3 million in one of the schemes allegedly engineered by former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow and his right hand man, Michael Kopper. After the intervention of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the British Parliament declined to block the extradition of the three former bankers, who are now living in Houston while awaiting trial on the charges.

However, one question that arose immediately after the NatWest Three arrived in Houston was why the three former bankers were not required like other defendants in Enron-related criminal cases to undergo a "perp walk" -- i.e., the process by which federal authorities parade white-collar criminal defendants in handcuffs and sometimes leg chains in front of the media as they enter the federal courthouse for their initial appearance in court. Well, according to this Telegraph.co.UK article, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales telephoned the US Marshals Service in Houston on the afternoon the three arrived in Houston and instructed the marshals to remove their hand and leg chains. So much for the ruse that Enron-related criminal cases are not subject to political pressure, wouldn't you say?

Meanwhile, in another interesting development, the entertainment value of the NatWest Three case increased last this week with the news that famed Houston criminal defense attorney Dick DeGuerin -- he of Joseph Durst fame -- has been hired by Giles Darby, one of the NatWest Three. With colorful Houston-based criminal defense lawyer Dan Cogdell already representing NatWest Three defendant David Bermingham, the defendants are preparing a formidable legal team and signaling an aggressive defense of the Enron Task Force's charges.

Posted by Tom at August 12, 2006 6:55 AM |


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