Debt entries 'deliberately erased on Kevin's orders'

The Maxwell Trial; Day 20
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Account entries showing pounds 30m-pounds 40m owed by Robert Maxwell's private companies to the Mirror group were deliberately erased on the instructions of his son Kevin just a few days before the tycoon's death, an Old Bailey fraud trial heard yesterday.

On Day 20 of the trial of Kevin and Ian Maxwell and two Maxwell aides, a former accounts executive, Jane Roberts, told the court how Kevin ordered the "adjustments" to be made.

She said that on 31 October, 1991 - just five days before Robert Maxwell was found dead near his yacht in the Atlantic - she was called into Kevin's office at the Mirror building.

He told her he intended to make some amendments to the record of inter- company loans. "He then wrote out the adjustments he required," she said.

To anyone looking at the account, it would show that the loans due from private Maxwell companies had been reduced by pounds 30m-pounds 40m, she agreed.

Asked how she viewed such a request from Kevin Maxwell, she replied: "I thought it strange but I didn't question it."

Questioned by Mr Richard Lissack QC, prosecuting, she explained that she used the word "strange" because she was being asked to erase transactions that had actually occurred.

From that day onwards, two versions of the inter-company loan position were kept in the Mirror group, she said. As far as she knew, Kevin Maxwell, herself and a senior Maxwell aide, Robert Bunn, were the only people who knew there were two versions.

Ms Roberts, who joined the Mirror group in 1986, later became the treasury executive concerned with the private side of the business.

She said that throughout 1991, there was great pressure on the group from banks to keep within their overdraft limits and to ensure that shares, held as collateral for bank loans, did not fall below the agreed values.

She was repeatedly told by the banks that they wanted more shares to cover obligations and she used to visit the banks, taking share certificates with her.

Kevin and Ian Maxwell, a former finance director Robert Bunn and financial adviser Larry Trachtenberg all deny conspiracy to defraud. Kevin alone denies conspiring with his father to defraud pension funds by misuse of pounds 100m worth of shares.