Diplomat tried to stage rescue

The Maxwell Trial; Day 100
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The Independent Online
A high-ranking Israeli diplomat told the Old Bailey yesterday how he tried to arrange a pounds 400m rescue bid for the Maxwell group because he felt indebted to the late Robert Maxwell.

But David Kimche said neither Kevin nor Ian Maxwell told him about the huge pension fund liabilities. Dr Kimche, the retired director general of the Israeli foreign ministry and a roving ambassador at large, said he knew that after Maxwell's sudden death at sea the shares in the group plunged and that his sons urgently needed cash to prop up the ailing empire.

He met them in London to try to see if he could find someone willing to invest in the group.

"I didn't do it for a fee or for a cut. I was doing it as a favour," he said. He felt indebted to Maxwell because of the help he had given him through his Russian contacts in enabling Russian Jews to leave for Israel.

Dr Kimche said he immediately thought of his friend Roger Tamraz as a possible investor because he knew he was wealthy, a brilliant businessman and had extensive contacts with the Arab Gulf states.

In the days after Maxwell's death he approached Mr Tamraz about investing pounds 400m in the group. Dr Kimche understood he would lead a syndicate of wealthy Arabs to raise the money. Cross-examined by Richard Lissack QC, for the prosecution, Dr Kimche said he believed the rescue bid failed because there was not enough time.

Mr Tamraz told the court he believed the injection of pounds 400m would have saved the Maxwell empire.

He agreed when cross-examined by Mr Lissack that an arrest warrant had been issued for him by a Lebanese court accusing him of a $200m (pounds 130m) fraud, that he had been sentenced to jail for two years in his absence in Jordan and had been ordered by a Paris court to pay $56m to a French bank.

Kevin, Ian, and Larry Trachtenberg, a former Maxwell adviser, deny conspiracy to defraud the pension fund.

The trial continues today.