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Banker faced with nightmare scenario

The Maxwell Trial Day 43

Financial Correspondent

Unauthorised bank overdrafts had reached Guinness Book of Records levels three months before Robert Maxwell's death, an Old Bailey fraud trial heard yesterday.

Called to a meeting to explain the "nightmare scenario", the tycoon's way of dealing with the liquidity crisis came as a surprise to Robert Brown, a NatWest Bank executive.

Instead of offering to reduce the excess situation, Robert Maxwell "asked for more".

Maxwell's son, Kevin, twice tried to clear up a point bothering the bank but each time he was told to shut up by his father, said Mr Brown, who added: "I remember it vividly."

The banker said he came back from holiday at the beginning of August 1991 to find an unauthorised excess situation running into millions of pounds on the Maxwell accounts.

"I had never experienced anything like it in my 36 years' experience; the way in which it had occurred and the extent to which it had occurred. I guess it is any banker's nightmare scenario." He told the jury that as long ago as March 1991 the Maxwell group had been viewed by the bank as in potential danger.

In the dock are Kevin Maxwell, his brother Ian, and a former Maxwell aide, Larry Trachtenberg, who all deny conspiracy to defraud. Kevin alone denies conspiring with his father to defraud the pension fund by misuse of pounds 100m of investments in Scitex shares.

A fourth defendant, Robert Bunn, 47, was dropped from the proceedings on Tuesday because his doctors had said he was too ill, following a heart attack, to continue to face the stress of a trial.

The hearing was adjourned to today.