The NatWest 3

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It’s good to see the basis on which the so-called ‘NatWest 3’ are being prosecuted. When people appear to assist the creation of a deal as a result of which their employers seem to sell an asset at what might be an under value to a company in which they have an interest, which mysteriously realises the resulting profit a few months later, and only days after those involved have left the employment of the company that appears to have suffered from the deal, then there appears to be a prima facie charge to defended, whether it be of insider dealing, fraud, possible tax evasion (although no one seems to have asked the question as yet as to whether these transactions were taxed properly) or conspiracy.

So, whether or not the NatWest 3 are innocent or not, I welcome their prosecution. They set up a transaction through offshore companies and what they wrote about it, if the emails now in the public domain are to be believed, suggests that they wished for maximum secrecy with regard to the deal. When that’s done, people need to be brought to account.

There are some aspects of this that do need further mention though. First of all, it’s welcome that some people are brave enough to say this amongst all the jingoism this case created last week. Will Hutton of the Observer picks up full marks in this respect.

Second, a serious question mark has to hang over the Royal Bank of Scotland, their ultimate former employers, who appear not to have pursued them either for prosecution or for the restitution of assets. How can this be reconciled with the duty to be acting on behalf of their shareholders, I wonder? I’m baffled by this. I wonder if RBS would like to comment?

Third, it’s an indictment of the UK’s legal system that these people were extradited to face the law of a country when it appears that any activity was centred here. The UK has to get its act together on corruption and pursue it with vigour.

Finally — and the best bit of news that can follow from this, is that I hope a great many other people might be either seriously worried in the City, or might at least think twice in the future before thinking of using offshore companies to line their pockets at the expense of others, whether or not those in this case did so, or not.