Nat West Three facing year-long wait for trial

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The Independent Online

The trial of the three former NatWest bankers, whose recent extradition to the US on Enron-related fraud charges attracted huge controversy, will take place in a year's time.

A US judge set the trial date yesterday for 4 September, after the trio's defence lawyers rejected 5 February. They said they needed a year to prepare the case.

David Bermingham, 43, Giles Darby, 44 and Gary Mulgrew, 43, are accused of conspiring with senior Enron executives in 2000 to defraud NatWest of $19m (£10m), pocketing $7m themselves. The judge rejected a defence motion calling for him to remove himself from the case, saying he had severed ties with his former law firm, Vinson & Elkins, 14 years ago. The firm helped Enron create the off-shore investment vehicles that led to the bankers' indictment.

In a separate bail hearing, a US magistrate rejected the US government's attempts to put the trio under house arrest and instead ruled that their electronic tags could be removed. However, the government then asked the magistrate to stay his decision until the direction hearing.

Another bail hearing is expected in the next few days to determine whether the ankle bracelets can be removed.