Kevin sought Jewish backing

The Maxwell Trial: Day 92

Kevin Maxwell turned to the international Jewish community for financial support after his father's death when he was being pressed by banks, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

At Robert Maxwell's funeral in Jerusalem he discussed financial arrangements with Israeli bankers and the finance minister, Yitzak Modai.

In his third week in the witness box, the publisher's youngest son accused Lehman Brothers of "not giving a stuff" about his father's disappearance and behaving without common decency in demanding its money back as soon as it heard his father was missing at sea.

Kevin, who had earlier accused Lehman's, owned by American Express, of being extremely hostile to the Maxwell group, accused it of precipitating a crisis by issuing a default notice in breach of an agreement reached with his father in phone calls from his boat the day before he died.

He told the court that after the public announcement of his father's disappearance but before the announcement of his death, Lehman's was on the phone asking for its money.

"I recall asking them on the grounds of humanity to wait until morning - we didn't know if my father was lost to be recovered or lost to be found dead. I could not understand what damage would happen to them if they waited a few hours. I did express my disbelief at their conduct in the aftermath and with the knowledge of what I was facing."

Kevin said the Maxwell companies were long-standing customers and Lehman's had been paid millions of dollars in fees in 1991, and he asked what was the haste. "They said they were a large business with responsibility to the shareholders and wanted their money and they couldn't give a stuff about my father. I remember being absolutely shocked just on the basis of common decency."

Later Kevin described how he was comforted both personally and in a business sense from many condolence letters including one from Baroness Thatcher which he read out in court. The former prime minister had written to his mother on House of Commons notepaper saying: "Denis and I grieve for you and your family in the terrible tragedy and shock you have suffered. Your own dignity and strength in sorrow have demonstrated so powerfully the unity and supreme importance of a united family."

Kevin, his brother, Ian, and Larry Trachtenberg deny conspiracy to defraud the pension funds by misusing shares.

Yesterday the jury sent a note asking for an estimate of when the trial is due to end, but were told by Lord Justice Phillips it was not possible to give an accurate estimate.

n The trial has lasted 92 days of which the jury has been presented with evidence on 88, and legal argument has accounted for four.

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