Maxwells back with TV and media group

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The Independent Online
Kevin Maxwell, who holds the record as Britain's biggest-ever bankrupt, with debts of pounds 406m, has formed a television and media investment company.

After his automatic discharge from bankruptcy in September 1995, leaving the bulk of his creditors unpaid, Mr Maxwell bided his time. But his acquittal last September on fraud charges arising from the collapse of the businesses of his late father, Robert, prompted him to make a comeback. Documents filed at Companies House reveal that he has formed Telemonde Holdings, a TV and media company.

Mr Maxwell still has the spectre of a Department of Trade and Industry inquiry hanging over him. It is four-and-a-half years since inspectors were appointed by Michael Heseltine, then President of the Board of Trade, to examine the flotation of Mirror Group Newspapers by Robert Maxwell in 1991. Six months ago Mr Justice Buckley decided there was no public interest in forcing him to stand trial a second time on fraud charges and recorded a not guilty verdict. Mr Maxwell has still to be questioned by the inspectors.

He could offer no explanation for the delay except that one of the inspectors is a serving judge and may have a busy schedule.

The inquiry appears to have run out of steam. Since it was set up, nobody has been found guilty of criminal charges, MGN pensioners defrauded by Robert Maxwell have had their pensions guaranteed in full and the group's shares are way ahead of their flotation price.

In his new venture, Mr Maxwell has teamed up with his brother, Ian, and Anthony Kelly, former head of programme finance at British Satellite Broadcasting. Mr Kelly has previously worked at Goldcrest and Palace films. Until recently, he was a director of Lambie-Nairn, the TV graphic design and corporate identity specialists.

Until Telemonde's formation two months ago, 38-year old Mr Maxwell was working for Westbourne Communications, a consultancy firm founded by Jean Baddeley, the former secretary and adviser to his father.

Mr Maxwell, who lists his occupation as "publisher", said he was "looking to get back into business" with Telemonde, which he described as "a vehicle for making investments in media-related interests". He described the company as "a modest corporate beginning".

Last year, Mr Maxwell tried to establish a satellite TV business in Russia with his brother Ian. Working closely with RTR, the state-controlled All-Russian TV and Radio organisation, they planned to launch Meteor, a satellite station beaming films, news and sport to 150 million people.

Their involvement was scaled-down after a dispute with Boris Vishniak, general director of RTR. He reportedly accused Kevin of exhibiting the "mentality of a small trader" and ignoring long-term potential in favour of short-term gain. "Turnover on the project was millions of dollars, and Maxwell was interested in squeezing a fast million," claimed Mr Vishniak.