Judge orders Ian Maxwell to pay 500,000 pounds damages

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The Independent Online
IAN MAXWELL faces bankruptcy if he is unable to pay the pounds 500,000 in damages won yesterday by Mirror Group pension funds plundered by his late father.

The interim award, pending assessment of the amount due, was won by the liquidators of Bishopsgate Investment Management, who are seeking hundreds of millions of pounds stolen from BIM.

The liquidator, Neil Cooper of the accountants Robson Rhodes, won summary judgment in July against Ian's brother Kevin for pounds 406.5m. Kevin became Britain's biggest bankrupt in September.

Mr Cooper has made a similar claim against Ian, 36. If Ian Maxwell is unable to pay yesterday's award it is expected that he will apply to the courts for a voluntary deal with his creditors. If the court were to turn down Mr Maxwell's application for an individual voluntary arrangement he would be made bankrupt.

Yesterday's ruling by Mr Justice Chadwick allows Ian Maxwell to appeal against the judgment. His solicitor said he may appeal.

The judge held that in signing stock transfer forms without getting an assurance that the transfers had been approved by the BIM board, Mr Maxwell was in breach of the duty he owed BIM as one of its directors.

Mr Justice Chadwick said: 'It is no answer for Ian Maxwell to say, as he does, that he signed the stock transfer forms in reliance on his brother's signature.

'It is clear from his own evidence that he neither sought nor obtained any explanation from Kevin Maxwell. In particular he neither sought nor obtained any assurance that the transfers had been approved by the board.'

It would make a nonsense of the law if people could add their signatures on the sole ground that the document had already been signed by somebody else, he said.

'I can see considerable force in the contention that Ian Maxwell ought to have made it his business to know a great deal more about the affairs of the company than he appears to have done, and that, if he had known of the relevant transactions, he ought to have been concerned for the company's interests.'

Margaret Cole of Stephenson Harwood, solicitors for the liquidators, said: 'We are not disappointed at the outcome and will be taking steps to enforce the court order as quickly as possible.'