Bank of America pays out pounds 25m to Mirror pensioners: Funds custodian settles out of court More claims wait

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The Independent Online
BANK of America has paid pounds 25m to the Mirror Group pensions scheme in settlement of claims relating to its role as custodian of the scheme's funds.

Colin Cornwall, a spokesman for MGN Pension Trustees, said yesterday that he hoped there would be many more bilateral agreements out of court. 'We still have about five other claims (against other institutions) which could become the subject of writs,' he said.

Ken Trench, chairman of the Maxwell Pensioners Action Group, said: 'This is good news for the 12,000 people in the Mirror Group pension scheme. The only problem is that it doesn't help the 20,000 in other Maxwell pensions schemes.'

Claims for pounds 38m, plus interest, had been made in an action against Bank of America and Credit Suisse. The Swiss bank had received pension assets from the US institution as security for loans to the Maxwell media empire. Bank of America has agreed to the settlement 'without admitting any legal responsibility for losses incurred by the Mirror scheme'. The trustees have said they will continue their claims against Credit Suisse. These will come to court in October 1994.

Another claim launched by the trustees for pounds 200m jointly against Invesco MIM, Capel Cure Myers and Lehman Brothers will come to court later this month.

Neil Cooper of Robson Rhodes, the liquidator of the main Maxwell pension fund, is also claiming pounds 100m from Lehmans and pounds 33m from Banque Nationale de Paris. No court date has yet been set.

Mirror Group Newspapers said that while the settlement with Bank of America is likely to benefit the company, its precise impact must await an actuarial review of the pension fund, due to be completed in April.

Sir John Cuckney, who was appointed by the Government to encourage financial institutions to make up the shortfall in the Maxwell pension funds, welcomed yesterday's news. He also said progress on his own attempts to put together a global agreement that would settle all Maxwell-related claims was 'encouraging'.

The Maxwell empire's auditor, Coopers & Lybrand, will hear in the next few months whether it is to face a disciplinary tribunal over the Maxwell affair. Coopers was told yesterday by the Audit Registration Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants that it has come through a separate inquiry into current audit procedures unscathed.

The investigation was prompted by the Maxwell scandal, but did not look at any of Coopers' records on Maxwell companies or pension funds. These are being dealt with separately by the ICA's Joint Disciplinary Scheme, which will decide whether or not to hold a hearing into Coopers' role in several months' time.

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