Accused 'didn't care about pensioners'

The Maxwell Trial; Day 107
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The Independent Online

Financial Correspondent

The three accused in the Maxwell trial "didn't care tuppence about the pensioners' interests" when they pledged pounds 22m worth of shares as security for a loan.

"All they cared about was saving the Maxwell empire, their position and their jobs," Alan Suckling QC, prosecuting, claimed on the second day of his final speech in the trial of Kevin Maxwell, his brother, Ian, and former Maxwell financial adviser Larry Trachtenberg.

Mr Suckling described as "laughable" Kevin's evidence that he thought the shares in the Israeli company, Teva, belonged to the Robert Maxwell Group.

Kevin told the court that, in his last meeting with his father before his mystery death at sea, the tycoon told him that the ownership of the shares had been transferred from Bishopsgate Investment Management, which administered the pension funds, to Robert Maxwell Group.

Mr Suckling alleged Kevin knew quite well the shares really belonged to the pension fund and that he had put them at dishonest risk by pledging them as security for a loan in the days after his father's death.

By that time he knew the group was in a perilous financial state and "that there was at least the prospect of default and the shares being swallowed up and never coming back again must have been obvious".

Mr Suckling reminded the jury that, according to Kevin when he gave evidence, 14 witnesses from the Maxwell Group and from banks had not been telling the truth.

"There is a story of a proud mother watching her son at a Scout troop meeting and turning to her neighbour and saying, 'Look at that, my son is the only one in step'."

Mr Suckling asked the jury: "Is that the position here, or is the position you have not been told the truth by Kevin Maxwell? We suggest he has not told you the truth and that he knew, knew quite well, what he was doing and that it was dishonest."

The three accused deny conspiracy to defraud the pension funds by misusing the Teva shares and dishonestly putting them at risk.

Kevin alone denies a similar charge of conspiring with his late father to defraud the pension funds by misusing pounds 100m worth of Scitex shares.

The trial was adjourned until Friday.