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Natwest / Enron Three and plea bargaining

When I met up with the Natwest Three they told me that they were likely to plead guilty. The reason is quite simple. If they plead not guilty and loose they would get 35 years, but if they admit guilt they get 5 years (actually it turns out 37 months).

There is always a question of risk with a court. I am quite happy to have an incentive for guilty defendants to plead guilty. I am also happy that this is greater at the start of the process than at the end. However, the risk penalty should not be as great as it was in this instance.

This saga always had a question about the ethicality of what happened with Natwest. It was also clear that a lot of unethical things happened.

It remains, however, that we have skewed extradition arrangements to a jurisdiction that seems interested in cases like this one where Natwest and the defendants were all in the UK jurisdiction. This seems to be a trend in dealing with cases of alleged fraud.

As to whether what the Natwest / Enron three did was actually fraud will remain untested in a court. It was sharp practise. I have seen sharp practise in the business world. Where this should be criminal is a complex question.

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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

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