High Court orders Kevin Maxwell to pay pounds 400m

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KEVIN MAXWELL faces personal bankruptcy after being ordered to pay pounds 406.5m in damages for the benefit of the Maxwell pensioners.

The High Court ordered Mr Maxwell to make the payment after finding him in breach of his fiduciary duties as a director of Bishopsgate Investment Management, the Maxwell company that managed much of the pension fund money that is missing.

Robson Rhodes, the accountancy firm which is Bishopsgate's liquidator, had sought the ruling, claiming the case against Mr Maxwell for breach of trust and duties was irrefutable.

Giving summary judgment, Mr Justice Munnery said: 'I am satisfied that from the evidence before me there is no defence to these claims.'

Mr Maxwell did not lodge a defence and was not in court to hear the judge's ruling.

The judge found Mr Maxwell to be in breach of duty in 'procuring, effecting and consenting' to the transfer of several blocks of shares from the funds managed by Bishopsgate.

Mr Maxwell's decision not to mount a defence should not be seen as meaning he agreed with the judgment, the judge said.

Margaret Cole of Stephenson Harwood, the solicitors acting for Robson Rhodes, said the ruling would enable Bishopsgate to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against Mr Maxwell. 'It establishes that he's a debtor of Bishopsgate and of the pension funds,' she said.

Mr Maxwell has already indicated he is insolvent.

Two weeks ago he said he was unable to meet an Inland Revenue tax demand when he successfully applied to prevent his creditors bringing civil proceedings against him.

The appointment of a trustee in bankruptcy would enable a thorough assessment of Mr Maxwell's assets to be conducted. These would then be distributed among his creditors, of whom Bishopsgate is likely to be by far the largest.

Robson Rhodes is seeking a similar sum from Ian Maxwell, Kevin's brother, in proceedings due to start later this week. Ian Maxwell is expected to mount a defence.