The Attorney General is under fire after refusing to intervene in the case of the "NatWest Three" bankers facing extradition to America for their alleged role in an Enron fraud.
Lord Goldsmith said on Saturday there was "no basis" for reconsidering the Serious Fraud Office's decision not to intervene in the case so that the men could stand trial in the UK instead.
It was now in the "overall interests of justice", he said, that the whole case was dealt with by one court in the US where a number of alleged coconspirators are also facing charges.
Lawyers for the men said they were now faced with the prospect of having to raise a one million US dollars (£540,220) bail bond if they were not to be held in custody after their expected removal to the US on Thursday.
And opposition parties criticised the "one-sided" nature of the legislation which meant British citizens could be extradited to the US without evidence being produced that there was a case to answer, even though there was no equivalent arrangement for the extradition of American nationals to the UK.
David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby are all accused of an £11 million fraud in which their former employers NatWest were advised to sell part of an Enron company for less than it was worth. The three men deny any criminal conduct and have always insisted that if there was a case against them it should be tried in England because that is where they live and where the alleged offences took place.
However, in a letter to shadow attorney general Dominic Grieve, who took up their case, Lord Goldsmith said that the alleged fraudulent benefit received by the defendants derived from funds paid by Enron, a US company.
"Where allegedly criminal conduct occurs in more than one country, as will often be the case with fraud, it inevitably happens that proceedings are commenced in one country rather than the other," he said.
"In this case, investigations had begun in the USA and there had been no complaint by anyone in this country."
He added that the SFO's decision had been challenged by the defendants in the High Court where two senior judges ruled that their arguments were "wholly unsustainable".
However the defendants' lawyer, Mark Spragg, expressed dismay at his ruling which, he said, would have far-reaching ramifications.
"I think that must send a shiver down the backs of anybody in corporate finance or the City - anybody who has anything to do with America," he said. ..SUPL: