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Travers Smith has hit back at allegations that it unduly pressured potential witnesses not to testify in the forthcoming trial of the “NatWest Three”.
As reported on www.thelawyer.com on Monday (13 August), lawyers for the trio had alleged in a motion filed last week that “counsel for the purported victim in this case [RBS] has interfered with the ability of defense counsel to obtain relevant testimony” and therefore their clients’ ability “to mount a vigorous defense has thereby been severely compromised, if not eviscerated”.
Travers’ litigation partner Stephen Paget-Brown, who is leading advice to the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in the case, said that the allegations were “self-serving” and “without any foundation in fact“.
The NatWest Three, extradited last year on seven counts of Enron-related wire fraud charges brought by the US government, will stand trial on 7 January for embezzling $7.3m (£3.6m) from their former employer NatWest along with ex-Enron finance head Andrew Fastow. RBS now owns NatWest.
The trio's lawyers claim they had identified 36 potential witnesses who had worked with the NatWest Three. They wrote to the 36 via Travers, which replied that all but one of the list had declined to have anything to do with the trial.
It is understood that Travers, who is working with Jones Day’s US offices on the case, spoke to all but three potential witnesses, who were contacted by in-house counsel at RBS.
Paget-Brown told The Lawyer: “Whether employees or former employees choose to assist the defendants is entirely a matter for them as individuals. What we can say is that we made that point clear to every ‘witness’ we contacted. Each individual we contacted was more than happy for us to correspond with the defendants' lawyers on their behalf.”
The NatWest Three, David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew, are respectively being advised by Dan Cogdell of Cogdell Law Firm, Matt Hennessy of Deguerin Dickson & Hennessy and Reid Figel of Kellogg Huber Hansen Todd Evans & Figel. None of the defendants’ lawyers returned calls for comment.