Kevin Maxwell told yesterday of the last face-to-face conversation with his father Robert before the mysterious plunge to his death from his luxury yacht four years ago. The wide-ranging conversation took place the day before the publisher set off for a short break on his boat at the end of October 1991.
Kevin told an Old Bailey jury on his fourth day of giving evidence that his father was still suffering from a chest infection, which he hoped to throw off before flying on to Israel for business meetings. During their talk Robert Maxwell told Kevin he had transferred the beneficial ownership of pounds 22m of shares in the Israeli pharmaceutical concern Teva from BIM (Bishopsgate Investment Management, which administered the pensions funds) to the Robert Maxwell Group.
His father had done exactly the same thing earlier that year with pounds 100m worth of shares with another Israeli company, Scitex, before they were successfully sold at a handsome profit.
His father had shown him stock transfer forms for the Teva shares. He saw a "substantial benefit" if the shares were offered as belonging to the RMG rather than BIM, "particularly because of the positive PR that would accrue to the group from another successful sale of Israeli assets at a profit".
Robert Maxwell told his son he would arrange for the re-registration of the Teva shares in RMG's name. Kevin said he believed his father and thought the shares now belonged to RMG.
Asked by his counsel, Alun Jones QC, why he thought that, Kevin Maxwell said: "The only explanation I can give is simply years of working with him. In my whole cumulative experience of doing business with him, if he said something he meant it and I relied on what he said to me."He was not concerned about the paperwork because frequently with his father's dealings the paperwork followed later, sometimes much later.
That was the last face-to-face meeting Kevin Maxwell hadwith his father. But he spoke to him on the boat and at one stage his father had wanted him to fly out and join him for a business meeting. But in the end they resolved this over the telephone.
He had expected his father back in England for a dinner of the Anglo- Israeli Association where he was a guest of honour and due to speak. But in a phone call from the boat his father explained that he had still not shaken off his cold, had cancelled the trip to Israel but would be back in time for an important business meeting he and Kevin Maxwell were due to have with the chief executive of Lloyds Bank.
Kevin Maxwell, his brother Ian and former Maxwell financial adviser Larry Trachtenberg all deny conspiracy to defraud the pension fund by misusing the Teva shares and pledging them as security for a loan.
Kevin Maxwell alone denies a similar charge of conspiring with his late father to misuse the Scitex shares to pay private Maxwell company debts. The prosecution allege in both cases that the shares did not belong to RMG but the pension fund.
The trial continues today.