Firm `failed to honour' deal

The Maxwell Trial; Day 69

On the same day that Robert Maxwell was found dead in the sea near his yacht one of the tycoon's companies failed to honour a pounds 20m foreign exchange deal, the Old Bailey fraud trial heard yesterday.

Mr Willem Van Dyke, who was a vice-president of Salomon Brothers International at the time of the forex deal, said Salomons were instructed by Robert Maxwell Group Trading to purchase the pounds 20m at the best price possible.

Asked how Salomons regarded RMGT as a credit risk, he replied they would not have wanted to take any major risks and certainly no settlement risks.

Before any deal took place with RMGT they wanted an assurance from a bank also concerned in the forex transaction that they were going to pay Salomons.

The cash was delivered to RMGT on 5 November 1991 - the day that Robert Maxwell died - but Salomons were not reimbursed by Swiss Volksbank, which had been supposed to send the money. On 6 November Mr Van Dyke spoke to Maxwell finance director Larry Trachtenberg about it and reminded him that the money was already overdue.

He was told that there had been a conversation between Kevin Maxwell and someone else at Salomons and that Salomons were to be paid in another way.

Under difficult circumstances, having regard to Maxwell's death, Mr Van Dyke met Kevin Maxwell the next day. He was told by Kevin that a number of banks were supporting the Maxwell group and he had arranged a facility with NatWest Bank.

In addition, funds were expected from the sale in America of a subsidiary company called Que.

Mr Van Dyke said on Day 69 of the trial that Kevin told him Salomons would be paid shortly by a transfer of cash from the public side of the Maxwell group to the private side, which owed the money.

On 12 November there was an agreement between Salomons and Swiss Volksbank under which the bank agreed to make payment of the money owing to Salomons, the court heard.

A former Maxwell solicitor, Richard Talbot of Nicholson Graham & Jones, was questioned about the sale of Scitex shares in October 1991. He said he understood that the Scitex shares belonged to Robert Maxwell Group.

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

Kevin alone pleads not guilty to conspiring with his father to defraud the pension funds by misuse of its pounds 100m investment in Scitex.

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