Following my post yesterday about the NatWest Three, a few people have pointed me to some other blog posts discussing the case.
This one on Comment is Free is interesting, as much for some of the comments in the thread as for the post itself. This guy reckons the US authorities had the trio bang to rights and links to the original indictment in support of his argument.
In contrast, Tom at Houston’s Clear Thinkers reckons the three were innocent and only pleaded guilty because of the draconian penalty they would have faced if they had fought the case and lost. I have no doubt that the three were influenced by the plea bargain but I’m still not convinced they were completely innocent either.
But the most bizarre of the Three’s apologists is at Sott.net. The author quotes information from “confidential sources in the City of London”.
The fact is that these men agreed with NatWest that they could keep whatever they made from the offshore company as part of their remuneration upon the bank closing down their business and making them redundant.
NatWest decided to close down their business and rather than pay them, redundancy allowed them to keep whatever they could out of the unwinding of the offshore company transaction entered into with Enron.
There is so much wrong with this it’s hard to know where to start. Firstly, I have never heard of this defence, even from the NatWest Three’s most vocal supporters. OK, perhaps I haven’t been paying attention but surely this allegation would have had more publicity if there had been any substance to it.
Secondly, UK employers do not give severance in this way. They give lump sums to offset any potential liabilities they might have for unfair dismissal claims. In short, they give people enough to make it not worth their while to go to court. They want a clean break with their employee. They don’t get that by saying, “‘Ere, go and sell this company and see what you can get, my boy.”
Thirdly, in the unlikely event that this offer was made by NatWest, Gary Mulgrew, Giles Darby and David Bermingham would have got the deal in writing before going ahead. These men were seasoned investment bankers. They are not the sort of people to make deals with their employer on a promise. If they had such an agreement in writing, they would have produced it by now.
Of course, when you look at the rest of Sott, you see that there is a load of other completely mental stuff there too. The NatWest Three could probably do without allies like this.
No doubt the arguments over whether they were guilty or not and whether they were guilty in the UK rather than in the US will rumble on for a while. I still maintain that what they did was wrong, at least ethically and if it wasn’t against the law, it damned well should have been.