[JURIST] The three British bankers known as the NatWest three [JURIST news archive] pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of wire fraud as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary had been indicted on seven counts of wire fraud [indictment, PDF] for allegedly entering into a secret agreement with former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow [Chronicle profile] to defraud National Westminster Bank of $19 million while keeping $7 million for themselves. The trial was scheduled to begin in January. The judge has discretion to accept or deny the plea deal, under which the three former bankers agreed to serve a 37-month sentence, repay the $7.3 million they are believed to have fraudulently earned from the deal, and subject themselves to a civil suit in Britain brought by their former employer. The Independent has more. AP has additional coverage.
The three were extradited to the US [JURIST report] pursuant to an extradition treaty that subsequently came under heavy criticism [JURIST report] in the UK Parliament as "lopsided." The 2003 US-UK Extradition Treaty [text, PDF; Statewatch backgrounder], incorporated into UK law through the Extradition Act [text], requires only a showing of prima facie evidence by the requesting country, a lower evidentiary standard than probable cause. In July, UK lawmakers also pushed for the treaty to include a presumption that British citizens accused of committing crimes in the UK should be tried there.