Maxwell Promised Pension Manager He’d Repay Missing Millions
LONDON (AP) _ Just days before Robert Maxwell died, he personally assured an executive that the Maxwell company pension funds would soon be repaid millions for stock that had been removed, a jury was told today.
``He seemed very relaxed and it didn’t occur to me there was a particular problem,″ said former Maxwell pension fund manager Trevor Cook, testifying in the fraud trial of two Maxwell sons and two associates.
Cook testified he had asked the publishing tycoon about 100 million pounds, or $160 million, of stock in an Israeli computer imaging company, Scitex Corp. Ltd., that had been taken out of the pension funds.
Cook said he only became worried about the lack of repayment after Maxwell died mysteriously at sea on Nov. 5, 1991.
The prosecution accuses Kevin Maxwell of conspiring with his father to cheat the pension plans by selling the Scitex stock and using the proceeds to pay off bank loans for private Maxwell companies in late 1991.
A second count of conspiracy to defraud names all four defendants, including Kevin, his brother Ian; Robert Bunn, a former financial director for Maxwell companies; and Larry Trachtenberg, an American financial adviser to the Maxwells.
That charge centers around the removal of 22 million pounds, or $35.2 million, of pension fund stock in another Israeli firm, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., to be used as collateral for a loan from National Westminster Bank.
The charges carry maximum penalties of 10 years in prison, or fines, or both. The defendants say they are innocent.
The defense has sought to blame Maxwell’s heavy-handed management style, both as a publisher and as a father, for bullying others into rubber-stamping decisions he made personally and for keeping everyone else in his companies in the dark about what was going on.
Questioned by Kevin Maxwell’s attorney, Alun Jones, Cook disputed suggestions that he began to write memos about the missing pension fund assets only after Maxwell’s death.
Jones produced a variety of documents that the defense says show that Maxwell’s companies had paid the pension funds for the Scitex stock by transferring assets through inter-company accounts.
Cook denied this had happened. Cook also denied defense suggestions that he had altered documents relating to the history of the stock deals.