Kevin: 'I was bloody arrogant'

The Maxwell Trial: Day 98
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The Independent Online

Financial Correspondent

Kevin Maxwell said yesterday he had been "bloody arrogant" and for that reason had never imagined or considered the possibility of business failure.

Because of that, he told an Old Bailey jury, he never believed pensioners' interests were being put at risk by transferring shares owned by BIM - Bishopsgate Investment Management, which administered the pension fund - to the Robert Maxwell Group.

Kevin said, in what turned out to be his last meeting with his father, that Robert Maxwell told him he had transferred the beneficial ownership of some pounds 40m worth of shares in the Israeli group, Teva, to RMG. They were to be paid for in the usual way through movements on the inter-company account.

In his fourth week of giving evidence, Kevin was pressed by Alan Suckling QC, prosecuting, about whether this was in the interests of the pensioners.

Kevin said it was easy to say that now, with the benefit of hindsight and knowing what had happened in the following days with his father's death and the company's collapse. He accepted, looking back, that "it beggars belief", but that was not what he was thinking at the time. "I didn't, for a minute, think or consider the possibility of my father's death and the impact that would have."

With the subsequent knowledge that the group was going to crash, he now accepted the share transfer had not been in the pensioners' interests, but at the time "there was no conception that they were not going to get their money back". He added: "It didn't occur to me."

"I didn't feel sufficiently threatened commercially to panic ... if I had panicked perhaps I wouldn't be here."

Although RMG had problems it was expecting a substantial inflow of funds and it did not occur to him "we were putting things at risk. Looking back now at the fact I didn't panic ... I'm amazed."

Asked by Mr Suckling why he had not, he replied: "Part of the answer is that I was probably one of the most arrogant people you will ever meet. I just could not imagine or consider failure. That, with hindsight, is bloody arrogant."

When Mr Suckling suggested he had invented what had happened at the meeting with his father, he replied: "I am not inventing what my father said, I am reporting what he said. I was there, you were not."

When Mr Suckling asked: "Isn't this humbug?", Kevin told him: "Every time you get an answer you don't like, you use words like humbug."

Kevin, his brother, Ian, and Larry Trachtenberg, a former Maxwell financial adviser, deny conspiracy to defraud the pension fund by misusing shares.

As a result of the crash there was not a pensioner today who was not interested in details of their pension, Kevin told the court. He said that neither the Maxwell directors nor the banks knew of the liability to the pension funds - but that neither had asked for the information. "There was no attempt to hide."

He reiterated his earlier evidence that "if you don't ask - you don't get".

The trial was adjourned until today.