Shop now Shop now Shop now Cloud Drive Photos  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now
Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb narrative, 11 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Price to Pay: The Inside Story of the NatWest Three (Paperback)
David Bermingham and his two fellow NatWest execs, Giles Derby and Gary Mulgrew, may well have sailed close to the wind with some of the complex structures that they helped conjure up for the fraud-ridden US energy giant Enron. But as Bermingham explains in this book they were to some extent only obeying orders. And they had no idea that Enron was a fraudulent enterprise at the time. They had been asked to maximize their division's revenues, as NatWest believed that bigging up its numbers might help it resist the competing and unwelcome takeover offers from Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland.

What appals me about this story, told with remarkable candour and breezy good humour (albeit laced with the odd use of cutting irony) by Bermingham, is the shabby way in which he and his two colleagues were treated by the UK authorities, and to a lesser extent by RBS itself, which acquired NatWest in early 2000.

Tony Blair and his entire New Labour cabinet come across as spineless. Much of the story revolves around the Extradition Act 2003, which revealed Blair & Co were only too happy to subjugate human rights and justice for UK citizens on the altar of a "special relationship" with the United States, even though this relationship was one-sided and illusory.

The act, which came into force in January 2004, made it possible for them to be extradited to the United States to stand trial for wire fraud and other alleged offences on what seems to have been the flimsiest of evidence. Bermingham describes how the "NatWest Three" launched a powerful media and online campaign against the act, and how one of the few British politicians who they persuaded to support them in this endeavour was the Conservative MP and former journalist Boris Johnson.

Two British institutions - the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Services Authority - come across as, to varying degrees, unscrupulous, perfidious and perhaps even corrupt. On page 195 Bermingham describes how Robert Wardle, the ex-director of the SFO, claimed his agency had had no involvement in their case, even through clear evidence to the contrary later surfaced.

The US justice system comes across no better, and perhaps even worse. In a review of A Price to Pay published in the Spectator, Conrad Black (a man who clearly has no axe to grind!!) described it as follows: "US criminal justice is based on the almost completely corrupt manipulation of the plea bargain, in which suspects, or alleged suspects, are interviewed and advised that they can have immunity in exchange for miraculous revenances of memory that incriminate the prime targets -- failing which, however flimsy or nonexistent the evidence, they too will be charged."

As a financial journalist myself, I found the section covering the interventions of the Daily Telegraph's business editor Jeff Randall and his journalistic colleagues particularly interesting. Bermingham reports that, after Randall published a couple of pieces questioning RBS's motives in not doing more to assist the 'NatWest Three', or not having the decency to arraign them for defrauding its NatWest arm (the main allegation against them) through the UK courts, he (Randall) received a call from someone very senior at RBS "begging me to call off the dogs".

Altogether A Price to Pay provides a fascinating account into where the worlds of finance, law, criminal justice, and the media collide on both sides of the Atlantic, and it is written in an accessible, narrative style. One of my main criticisms is the lack of an index.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]


Review Details