'Back pocket' Maxwell cash

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The Independent Online
JOHN WILLCOCK

Financial Correspondent

Robert Maxwell referred to transactions in which he was personally involved as his "back pocket deals", an Old Bailey fraud trial was told yesterday.

Fred Pointon, corporate banking director of the NatWest, said that the tycoon's purchase of the Daily News in New York was a typical example. He had never come across the phrase before he heard Maxwell using it.

Maxwell also had a habit of coming unannounced into meetings called at the Mirror headquarters by his son, Kevin. Mr Pointon described how Maxwell would stroll in and usually sit listening.

The banker told day 45 of the Maxwell trial that he thought Kevin Maxwell had been landed with a "very difficult job". He met him many times and about four months before Robert Maxwell's death, in November 1991, he wrote a note observing that Kevin recognised his lack of experience and saw in NatWest a source of help.

Asked about the Maxwell pension fund company, Bishopsgate Investment Management (BIM), Mr Pointon said that he had heard the name BIM mentioned but he did not know of its connection with the pension fund.

Another senior NatWest executive, David Ingham, clashed with Kevin Maxwell's defence barrister, Alun Jones QC, over an occasion after Maxwell's death when he suggested the bank refused to pay $32m (pounds 20M) to Lehmans in America because the bank suspected it was a preference payment at a time when banks were agreeing not to take such action. "The payment was not made because Kevin Maxwell withdrew the request," insisted Mr Pointon.

Kevin Maxwell, his brother, Ian, and a former Maxwell aide, Larry Trachtenberg, all deny conspiracy to defraud. The trial resumes on Monday.

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