Maxwell funds get 100m pounds 'loan'

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The Independent Online
PETER LILLEY, the Secretary of State for Social Security, yesterday offered the depleted Maxwell pension schemes a pounds 100m guarantee in what he described as 'a major extension of government assistance to securing pensioners' financial future'.

Mr Lilley has decided to postpone asking Maxwell pension schemes unable to meet their liabilities to make national insurance payments. Mr Lilley said the move 'amounts to an interest-free loan to the trustees of the pension schemes of some pounds 100m'.

The Government is committed to paying a minimum level of pension if schemes are unable to meet their liabilities.

However, it is still refusing to cover the schemes' losses: 'No government could accept an obligation to use taxpayers' money to make good losses resulting from fraud.'

Tony Boram, chairman of the Association of Mirror Pensioners, urged the Government to accept 'total responsibility'.

The Maxwell pension funds appear to have been used as a dumping ground for inferior assets owned by Robert Maxwell's private companies, the House of Commons social security committee was told yesterday.

Neil Cooper, liquidator of the firm that managed most of the money, said only two of 20 properties owned by the funds were suitable investments.

He said he had recovered only pounds 247.9m of pounds 440m missing from the funds managed by Bishopsgate Investment Management, but he hoped to obtain pounds 39m more through insurance claims.