Former NatWest bankers
David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew, each pleaded guilty to one count
of wire fraud in Houston federal court today, five years after they were first
charged with stealing $US7m (£3.4m) in an under-the-table deal designed by
Andrew Fastow, former Enron chief financial officer, who has since been
convicted and jailed for fraud.
The trio’s guilty plea was in return for a prison-sentence of three years and
one month – more than triple the hoped-for ‘best-case scenario’ of a one-year
jail sentence – plus a repayment of $US7.3m to
Royal Bank of Scotland, of
which NatWest is now a unit.
In a 45-minute hearing, the three men, who had always protested their
innocence, appeared before district judge Ewing Werlein. He asked each in turn
for their plea, to which Bermingham replied: ‘Guilty, sir’ and his two former
NatWest colleagues echoed: ‘Guilty, your honour’, The Guardian
‘They just realised it was the right thing to do in the right circumstances –
to get this done, to get it behind them and to move on with their lives,’
defence counsel Dan Cogdell said outside court.
Justice Werlein must still agree to accept the plea agreement. Cogdell said
the men would apply for a prisoner exchange programme in the hope of spending
their sentences in a British jail.
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