Is it fair that British citizens wanted by the US can be extradited to Yankeeland but American citizens wanted by Britain can't be extradited to Britain?

Anyway, a banker who was a witness in the US fraud case against the so-called NatWest Three has been found dead in a park in east London

NatWest Three witness found dead in park

Police believe former bank executive killed himself
'No evidence' he was involved in alleged fraud

David Pallister and Hans Kundnani
Thursday July 13, 2006
The Guardian

Police examine the scene at Waltham Forest, east London, after the death of Neil Coulbeck. Photo: Bruno Vincent/Getty

A banker who was a witness in the US fraud case against the so-called NatWest Three has been found dead in a park in east London, 24 hours before the accused men were due to be extradited to America, it emerged yesterday.

As MPs began an emergency debate on the extradition controversy and the prime minister defended the government's action, the police confirmed that the body of a man had been found near Woodford golf course on the edge of Epping Forest on Tuesday afternoon.

Police believe the man, who was found by a member of the public lying on the ground, killed himself.

City sources confirmed he was Neil Coulbeck, 53, a former head of group treasury at the Royal Bank of Scotland. He had been reported missing by his wife, Susan, from his home in Woodford Green, less than a mile from the parkland, where he was a regular jogger.

There were conflicting accounts yesterday about Mr Coulbeck's reaction to being drawn into the US investigation and the way he was treated. Sources familiar with the US investigation, as well as the NatWest Three's London lawyer, Mark Spragg, said Mr Coulbeck was a peripheral figure in the fraud case.

It is understood the FBI last interviewed Mr Coulbeck in 2002, and he signed a witness statement in November 2003. The three are accused of an 11m fraud in which their former employer, NatWest, was advised to sell part of LJM SwapSub, a company owned by collapsed US giant Enron, for less than it was worth.

Mr Coulbeck's statement was a three-paragraph explanation of his role at RBS and at NatWest before the Scottish bank took it over in 2000. Mr Coulbeck had worked at Natwest and RBS since 1983 and worked at the Greenwich NatWest subsidiary in the US between 1998 and 2000.

As a managing director in charge of balance sheet management, he had responsibility for making sure the company had sufficient financial resources for its operations.

But he claimed to have no knowledge of the final stages of the transaction which lies at the heart of the alleged fraud.

A spokesman for RBS said: "There is no evidence that Neil was involved in the approval of the sale of the transaction under investigation."

Yesterday two of the NatWest Three paid tribute to their colleague.

Giles Darby, speaking from his palatial home in Lower Wraxall, Somerset, said he was devastated by the news. "It's an utter tragedy. I'm struggling to take it in, really. Of course, my thoughts are now with Neil's family and friends." David Bermingham spoke at his Goring mansion in Berkshire. "He was a superstar, a thoroughly decent, honest professional guy and a very experienced banker. He was one of a number of NatWest people who made short witness statements that were included in our extradition pack. They were not statements as to matters of evidence, they were merely identifying themselves and their roles in the company."

He added that Mr Coulbeck's apparent suicide might have nothing to do with the extradition proceedings or the NatWest case. "It's very dangerous to draw assumptions." Earlier, before he knew the identity of the body, Mr Bermingham said that one of the witnesses, whom he did not identify, "was very aggressively interviewed by the FBI and was quite traumatised by the entire experience". The NatWest Three's lawyer, Mr Spragg, said Mr Bermingham had not been referring to Mr Coulbeck.

Mr Coulbeck's wife was believed to be at the family home in Woodford Green yesterday being comforted by friends. Neighbour Oonagh de Berry, 37, said Mr Coulbeck was an "unassuming and shy" man who regularly jogged in nearby parks. "Only a few days ago they had a marquee in the garden and some kind of big party. They seemed like a normal happy couple."
MPs add their condemnation of 'unfair' treaty

Tania Branigan, political correspondent
Thursday July 13, 2006
The Guardian

MPs stepped up pressure on the government yesterday to overturn the "unfair, imbalanced" treaty under which the NatWest Three will be extradited to the United States today, following peers in a resounding rejection of the agreement.

A bizarre coalition - including the Liberal Democrats, Labour backbenchers, former Tory leader Michael Howard and George Galloway - opposed the treaty, which has never been ratified by the US.

They protested symbolically through a highly unusual vote to adjourn the house early. In another rare manoeuvre, the government sought to avoid embarrassment by not voting - resulting in a 246 to four vote for the Commons to rise.

Tony Blair told MPs he had been informed that US prosecutors would not oppose conditional bail for David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby, but rejected demands to renegotiate the extradition arrangements.

In the first emergency debate since 2002, Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said the government's decision to implement the treaty without US ratification was inexplicable. "Three British citizens are to be extradited to the United States on the basis of an unfair, imbalanced treaty that this government negotiated in secret and to which it devoted the most cursory parliamentary scrutiny imaginable."

The solicitor general, Mike O'Brien, defended the agreement as "the nearest rough and ready parity that we are reasonably likely to be able to achieve".