NatWest banker claims he was ‘tortured’ into pleading guilty over theft of $7.3m from RBS
Two of the “NatWest Three” bankers convicted in the US of stealing $7.3m (£4.7m) from Royal Bank of Scotland claim to have been pressured into making guilty pleas.
By Richard Tyler
Released from prison in Britain earlier this year having served half of their 37-month prison sentence for a scam dreamed up with corrupt Enron executives, David Bermingham and Gary Mulgrew have attacked the American justice system and the controversial extradition treaty used to deport them to the US in July 2006.
In a video, published on Ungagged.net, a website dedicated to exposing “prosecutorial abuses” in the aftermath of the $80bn collapse of energy trading giant Enron, Mr Mulgrew said the pressure from the US trial process was like “torture”.
Mr Mulgrew had at the time accepted an offshore transaction in the Cayman Islands “lacked integrity”, adding: “I apologise unreservedly for my actions.” Mr Bermingham also conceded at the time that his conduct “fell well below the standards expected”. Giles Darby was also convicted but has not spoken out.
The two men now say their confessions were drawn out of them. In the video, Mr Bermingham described the fraud only as a transaction that was “questionable from an accounting perspective”.
Mr Mulgrew said that when he pleaded guilty, after almost two years under arrest, to one count of wire fraud in a plea bargain that saw seven other charges dropped, the judge asked if he had been under any “psychological pressure” when making his plea.
“Well, let me think,” Mr Mulgrew said to Ungagged.net. “You took me away from my home country. You took me away from my family, my friends. My daughter’s missing me, my son’s heartbroken. What bit of pressure do you not understand?
“Torture takes many forms. You keep delaying the trial and delaying the trial. It’s one of the [Department of Justice’s] simplest cards to play with us, delay the trial.”
Mr Mulgrew added: “We got told in the end that it was a complex case, it was connected to Enron, people trusted the [Department of Justice] and they hate Enron, and you guys have got good arguments but your chances of getting all 12 of them [the jury] saying ‘not guilty’ are remote. So maybe a hung jury and you get retried in a year, a year-and-a-half. What’s the point, just put me in jail.”
The US Department of Justice could not be reached for comment.