Kevin tells of father's share price 'vanity'

The Maxwell Trial; Day 80

Robert Maxwell regarded the share price of his business empire as a measure of his personal popularity, "part of his vanity", and ploughed millions of pounds into supporting the price, his youngest son Kevin said yesterday.

The late tycoon came to believe that the share price of Maxwell Communication Corporation (MCC) was being driven down in 1991 by a bear raid, an organised group of speculators.

On his third day of giving evidence Kevin Maxwell told the court his view of the "seeds and origins" of the collapse of the Maxwell business empire in 1991.

Questioned by his counsel Alun Jones QC, Kevin said that his father spent millions during 1991 trying to support the MCC share price, but failed for two reasons: the London Stock Exchange was lenient in making the speculators pay for the stock; and the investment bank Goldman Sachs was in effect selling its own MCC stock, held as collateral for Maxwell loans.

Asked about his father's attitude to MCC's share price, Kevin said: "There is no question that the share price of his publicly quoted companies was a matter of pride ... a part of his vanity ... if the share price was rising he felt better.

"He felt the share price reflected in part public esteem for his business. So it was the first thing he looked for in the morning and the last thing at night. It was a personal fixation."

To counteract this he consulted with his main adviser, Goldman Sachs' Eric Sheinberg, to buy MCC shares through offshore entities. But the price did not improve much.

Kevin said he had seen statements made to the Serious Fraud Office by Mr Sheinberg and told the court that the prosecution "haven't called Eric Sheinberg and they should".

Earlier Kevin had described to the court his father's interest in Israel, which he said had not really started until the late 1980s, although his father had always been interested in and supported the state of Israel.

Robert Maxwell's interest in Israel "was stimulated by what can be described as a return to his roots". His son said he had survived the Holocaust but most of his family, who were Jewish, had perished.

Kevin said he had grown up not realising his father had any relatives but extensive research by his mother had uncovered some 200 relatives in different parts of the world.

Robert Maxwell had financed the massive airlift of Jewish children from Chernobyl after the 1986 nuclear disaster and assisted with their resettlement in Israel.

His substantial investments in the Israeli companies Scitex and Teva were seen in Israel as showing confidence in the country at a time when Israel was seen as risky.

Kevin, his brother Ian and the former Maxwell adviser Larry Trachtenberg deny conspiracy to defraud the pension funds by misusing pounds 22m worth of shares in Teva as security for a loan in a bid to prop up the crumbling Maxwell empire in the days following its founder's death.

Kevin alone denies a similar charge of conspiring with his late father to misuse pounds 100m of Scitex shares to pay private Maxwell company debts. In both cases the prosecution claims the shares were not theirs to use but belonged to the pension fund.

Kevin has told the court that he believed what his father had told him - that the shares had been transferred from the pension fund to the Robert Maxwell Group - and that he acted legally.

Kevin told the jury that, with the benefit of reflection, the death of his father and the loss of his famed negotiating skills was decisive. He admitted: "I did not have his stature, his reputation. I did not have 40 years of business experience when facing the NatWest and the group's other bankers."

Questioned by his counsel about the origins of the group's failure and the degree of responsibility he felt, Kevin replied: "I feel that I share a significant responsibility for the collapse of the business."

He went on to list causes, including disastrous losses of over pounds 300m in share values in the 1987 world stock market crash.

The trial continues today.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Jordan Rossiter celebrates with team mates after scoring the opening goal during the match between Liverpool and Middlesbrough at Anfield
football

Liverpool progress to the last 16 of the Capital One Cup

News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
books
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

£65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

Trainee / Experienced Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40000: SThree: As a Recruitment Consultant, y...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world