NatWest 3

  • 30 Nov 2007 at 3:45 PM
  • NatWest 3

The NatWest 3 Guilty Plea: Risk Management

We noted our disappointment yesterday with the decision by the three British bankers—called The NatWest 3 by British tabloids—to plead guilty to one count each of wire fraud. The rubber hose and brass knuckles style of regulating business through the criminal justice system scored another undeserved victory, and unfortunately this will no doubt vindicate the zealous prosecution of Enron’s failure in the minds of many.
Houston attorneyTom Kirkendall, who writes the brilliant Houston’s Clear Thinkers blog, notes that the threat of long jail sentences and a jury pool that is virulently anti-Enron probably made the guilty plea inevitable. The defendants were facing years of jail in a foreign land—Texas!—and the convictions of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling were not exactly re-assuring about the likely fairness of a trial.
“Given those choices, my sense is that the NatWest Three’s choice was a rational and reasonable decision. It’s simply not a choice that they should have been forced to make,” Kirkendall writes.
Somebody was guilty because they were guilty [Houston’s Clear Thinkers]

  • 29 Nov 2007 at 9:01 AM
  • NatWest 3

NatWest Three Plead Guilty

We won’t pretend we’re a not at least a little disappointed by the guilty pleas offered in a federal court in Houston by three British bankers yesterday. The bankers—Giles Darby, David Bermingham and Gary Mulgrew—pled guilty to one charge of wire fraud each and are expected to be sentenced to 37-months in jail.
Those who have cheered on the criminalization of Enron’s collapse will no doubt wear vindicated smiles when they talk about the guilty pleas. But their glee will be misplaced is they regard the guilty plea as a confirmation of wrong-doing. Plea bargains have become quite common in white-collar criminal cases not because prosecutors select only the guiltiest of defendants but because the threat of enormous jail sentences make fighting charges too risky.

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  • 25 Sep 2006 at 8:26 AM
  • NatWest 3

Opening Bell 9.25.06

chery-wow-fronts.jpgReport: Chrysler could sell cars made by China’s Chery in U.S. (AP)
Would any red-blooded American drive around a Chery? Probably not; that’s why Daimler is in talks with the Chinese automaker to license one of its small, fuel-efficient models for sale in the US under the Chrysler name. Remember, Chery is the company that had been sued by GM for design piracy. It was only a matter of time before Chinese cars started hitting US streets. In general, there’s nothing pathetic about the emergence of the Chinese auto industry on American shores, and we’re not worried about the trade implications. But the fact that the American makers got caught so badly on the opposite side of trends — totally failing to anticipate any meaningful demand for fuel-efficient cars — and have to go out and license brands from upstart Chinese makers is a bit pathetic. And just in case you thought trade with China was getting to one-sided, Toys R Us is looking to open its first store in the country later this year.
Oil Falls Below $60 on Iran Talks, BP Plan to Restart Prudhoe (Bloomberg)
Whatever you think about the Iran situation — whether you think we should pursue a diplomatic solution or the bomb — we can all agree that it’s hard to put too much faith in what the country’s president has to say. He obviously wants Iran to have a nuclear program, and as an ideologue, it’s unlikely that any diplomacy he enters into will be done in good faith. Yet, ostensibly, the oil markets buy it hook-line-and-sinker, as price per barrel drop every time he says something about wanting to restart talks. So gullible. One analyst says the “Iran premium” has completely evaporated. Maybe. Or, we could just be heading into a recession, and demand for commodities is slowing. But it’s Monday, we can choose to look on the bright side.
Morgenson: blowing hot air on natural gas (Ideoblog)
One of our favorite weekend readings is Larry Ribstein’s weekly critique of the most latest Gretchen Morgenson column. The Time’s Gretchen Morgenson has the unfortunate combination of being singularly obsessed with a topic about which she’s poorly informed, or, at least open to a lot of criticism (we’ll opt with the former, but we’re hedging in case we run into her at a party). Typically, she writes about the evils of high CEO pay (snooze button please). But, in the wake of Amaranth, she uses the opportunity to agitate for more oversight and more regulations (duh). And she’s not averse to using some misleading hyperbole either. Ribstein accurately susses out the worst line “…as last week’s implosion of Amaranth shows, Enron’s’ troubling legacy lives on”. Ugh. It’s really not an exaggeration to say that there are many who want to criminalize failure. That’s a cliche, but an accurate one. If the Gretchen Morgenson’s of the world really set policy, any bankruptcy or loss of money would probably be a crime — or at least presumed to be one. We should be grateful she’s consigned to the Times, and that the paper of record’s influence is on the wane.
Inco backs all-cash takeover by Brazil’s CVRD (Globe & Mail)
This was pretty much expected. Nickel miner Inco has recommended to shareholders that they accept a buyout offer from Brazilian copper miner CVRD. After a pitched battle between CVRD, TeckCominco, and PhelpsDodge, CVRD remained the last mine standing. And after a month of looking in vain for an even more hostile bid to save it from CVRD, Inco relented. The finaly buyout price stands at $19.4 million.

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  • 07 Sep 2006 at 9:32 AM
  • NatWest 3

A Year in Texas

A judge yesterday set the trial dates for the NatWest 3, the three British bankers charged with looting Enron. Although David Bermingham, Giles Darbyand and Gary Mulgrew have complained about rulings requiring them to stay in the US while they await trial, their attorneys rejected an earlier date, claiming they needed more time to prepare the defense.
The three did get some good news yesterday. A magistrate rejected prosecutors’ requests that they be placed under house arrest and even indicated that their Martha Stewart-style ankle bracelets may be removed. A bail hearing in the next few days will decide that issue.
Nat West Three facing year-long wait for trial[Independent]

  • 09 Aug 2006 at 10:37 AM
  • NatWest 3

NatWest Three In The Land of Litigation

englishenron.jpgAs if getting extradited by your mother country wasn’t bad enough, the NatWest three were reportedly served with subpoenas in an Enron shareholder class action suit less than 24 hours after they arrived in the US.
David Bermingham, who obviously hasn’t exactly adjusted to his new life in the land of litigators, told the Toronto Star, “We had been in the country less than 24 hours when lawyers for whoever, the ambulance-chasing lawyers, came out with their subpoenas.”
David, your deposition just got a bit uglier.

Enron investors call NatWest Three in civil lawsuit [The Guardian]

  • 28 Jul 2006 at 9:03 AM
  • Enron

NatWest 3=Iraq=Texas

Earlier this week, we pointed out that our British friends were talking about the indictment of the NatWest 3 as if it had something to do with the Iraq war. Psychologically, the two had become linked, demonstrating that America was out of control and that the UK had some how become subservient to our rampages.
That sounded a little paranoid. Even far-fetched. So we were glad to see confirmation in the Scotsman that this really is the way some Mud Islanders think about things. It’s all here—an irrational America, an acquiescent UK, the Middle East, the jailed bankers. Somehow all connected in the murky mind of writer Stephen Jardine.

The Middle East lies at the heart of the tension. Traditionally, Britain follows its own agenda in the area but as chaos continues in Iraq, in policy terms we’re now increasingly tied to America’s coat tails throughout the region. And even here at home, no-one is safe from harm. What Uncle Sam wants, he gets.
This week I’ve been in Texas interviewing the Scots businessman caught up in the collapse of America’s biggest corporation. Gary Mulgrew and two colleagues allegedly took part in illegal transactions linked to Enron while they worked in Britain for the NatWest Bank.
Any crime was substantially committed here but that didn’t stop America applying for extradition. Even though the United States hasn’t yet ratified the treaty, the British Government happily handed the NatWest Three over on the basis of the charges made, but no evidence.

It’s US and them . . and Bush to blame
[The Scotsman]