Man Linked To Enron Found Dead In London

By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, July 13, 2006

LONDON, July 12 -- A British banker who had been questioned by the FBI in a matter related to the Enron Corp. fraud case was found dead in a park in East London on Wednesday, British media reported.

The body of Neil Coulbeck, 53, a former executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, was found in a wooded area near his home. Police did not immediately identify the man, whose death they termed "unexplained." British media reported that it was Coulbeck and said the bank had sent condolences to his family.

Coulbeck, who had not been accused of any wrongdoing, had given a statement to the FBI as part of an Enron-related extradition case involving three other British bankers, who are scheduled to be sent to the United States on Thursday to face fraud charges.

The three men -- David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby -- are accused of advising their former employer, National Westminster Bank, a unit of the Royal Bank of Scotland, to sell part of a company owned by Enron for less than it was worth. They allegedly later purchased a stake in the unit and sold it at a $7.3 million profit. They have denied wrongdoing.

The three bankers' case has re-ignited a political furor here, with opponents of Prime Minister Tony Blair's government arguing that Britain has a one-sided extradition agreement with the United States. Critics argue that a deal negotiated in 2003 has made extradition from Britain to the United States easier, but it has not given the same advantages to British officials trying to extradite U.S. suspects. The U.S. Senate has not ratified the deal. The bankers want their case decided in British courts.

Blair has repeatedly said the arrangement with the United States is not unfair.

Bermingham, one of the accused bankers, told reporters that Coulbeck was as "a superstar, a thoroughly decent, honest professional guy and a very experienced banker."

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