February 23, 2008
Prison for the NatWest Three
Posted by David Zaring

We've discussed the NatWest three often on the blog, and it looks like they've reached the end of the road, with prison in Pennsylvania awaiting, and, they hope, a quick extradition to the UK.  The three made the mistake of sweetheart dealing with Andy Fastow - and the Times suggests that their indictment prompted his guilty plea.  Perhaps.  But the prosecution's "honest services" theory always looked shaky, though the bankers' conduct may have been a bit more self-interested than NatWest interested, as Christine noted here before.  I haven't followed the case too closely, but to me, it looked like an example of a meme: the prosecutions that follow disasters can reach broadly, sometimes unpredictably, and not always evenly.  Not everyone who dealt with Fastow on favorable terms is going to jail.  And there's a question as to whether the United States or NatWest should have been the entity sanctioning these bankers.

So why the plea, and now the sentencing?  I'm wondering if the White Collar Crime Profs think that the UK will treat the 18 months the defendants spent in Houston as time served.  It sounds like they think the defendants will be out of jail much more quickly if they are extradited home.

Update: Here's Tom Kirkendall's excellent blow-by-blow of the case - he concludes that the group settled because of the trial penalty.  Tom's post and other sentencing stories that I've seen note that regardless of the time served question, the UK parole process should cut the jail part of the sentences in half.

Update 2: And check the comments for Peter Henning's view - no on the movement restrictions while out on bail (probably, unless the UK is strange), 18 months total behind bars.

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