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Federal judge sets fraud trial date for UK Enron bankers

[JURIST] US District Court Judge Ewing Werlein has set either February 5 or September 4, 2007 as the trial date for three former British bankers [JURIST news archive], known as the Natwest Three, who face fraud charges related to the Enron scandal [JURIST news archive]. Defense lawyers argued for a late trial date in order to allow sufficient time to complete their investigations both in the UK and in the US, but Werlein set the February date in case the defense completes their preparation earlier than expected. In a pretrial conference Wednesday, Werlein also denied a defense motion to have him removed from the case because of a possible conflict of interest as a result of his association with his former law firm Vinson & Elkins [official website], which had represented Enron prior to its 2001 collapse.

David Bermingham, Giles Darby, and Gary Mulgrew were extradited to the US [JURIST report] to face seven counts of wire fraud [indictment, PDF] each 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. All pleaded not guilty and have been living in the US [JURIST reports] since July 13 on a $1 million bond that requires their presence in the US pending trial. Reuters has more.

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