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Expert sacked for tape gaffe

The Maxwell Trial Day 57

Financial Correspondent

A foreign exchange expert lost his job with the Maxwell empire after listening to an "incriminating" tape-recording involving a pounds 20m deal, an Old Bailey jury heard yesterday.

Ronald Black, a former director of Robert Maxwell Group Trading, said the foreign exchange deal was executed on 5 November 1991, the same day tycoon Robert Maxwell went missing from his yacht in the Atlantic.

That evening he was "horrified" to learn that the pounds 35m needed to finance the deal had not been provided in New York.

He said senior Maxwell aide Larry Trachtenberg had undertaken to provide the dollars and he tried to pressurise him to make the payment.

Mr Black said he must have rung Mr Trachtenberg's office about 50 times on 6 November and he was mostly told by Mr Trachtenberg's secretary that he was too busy to come to the telephone.

On the couple of occasions he did get through, Mr Trachtenberg assured him that "Kevin Maxwell will be dealing with the matter personally".

Although Kevin said the money was forthcoming, by 12 November it had still not been paid. Mr Black said that in all his 19 years as a foreign exchange trader he had never come across a situation like it.

It was then that he got hold of a tape of the instructions given to start the deal going, and satisfied himself that RMTG had acted properly over the deal.

When he told Mr Trachtenberg he had listened to the tape he was "very upset". Mr Black continued: "I could not understand this because I often listen to tapes to see if transactions have been carried out correctly."

When Mr Black asked what was wrong, Mr Trachtenberg's alleged reply was: "I was very concerned because evidence on the tape was incriminating towards me."

Mr Black said his employment with RMTG then ceased.

Kevin Maxwell, his brother Ian, and Larry Trachtenberg all deny conspiracy to defraud the pension funds by misuse of its investments.

The trial was adjourned to next Monday.