Mystery pounds 500,000 saves Ian Maxwell

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The Independent Online
IAN MAXWELL yesterday avoided the fate that befell his brother Kevin last year, and staved off a pounds 407m bankruptcy petition by paying pounds 500,000 to the Maxwell pensioners.

Neither Mr Maxwell nor his lawyers, Kingsley Napley, would disclose the source of the money. Stephenson Harwood, the lawyers acting for the liquidators of the Maxwell pension funds, said they were unable to say where the money came from.

However, Mr Maxwell is known to have sold his central London flat recently and to have approached a number of friends and acquaintances to see if they would lend him the money to stave off bankruptcy.

Mr Maxwell and his wife are living in a home belonging to David Davies, the chairman of Johnson Matthey, but it is understood that this is a commercial arrangement and Mr Davies is believed not to be the source of the money.

Other speculation centred on Mr Maxwell's mother, Betty, who provided more than pounds 1m to cover the legal fees of Mr Maxwell and his brother Kevin. She was unavailable for comment.

The last-minute payment prevented the liquidators of the pension funds from presenting a bankruptcy petition against him at the High Court yesterday.

However, Mr Maxwell will face action to recover a further pounds 100,000 and may also be pursued for the whole of the pounds 407m missing from Maxwell pension funds where he was a trustee.

Kevin Maxwell was adjudged to be liable for those losses last year, and his inability to come up with pounds 407m led to him being made Britain's largest bankrupt.

Ian Maxwell fought the legal action taken against him and, in December in the High Court, Mr Justice Hardwick ruled that he was liable for pounds 580,000 worth of shares transferred from the pension funds to Swiss bank Credit Suisse on the signature of his brother. However, Mr Justice Hardwick said that if he paid pounds 500,000 by 11am yesterday, the bankruptcy petition could not be presented.

A cheque, drawn at Midland Bank, was presented to Margaret Cole, the partner at Stephenson Harwood leading the case. 'This will go straight into the fund for the benefit of the pensioners,' Ms Cole said. However, she added that the lawyers would take action to recover the other pounds 80,000 plus interest, and were considering their position with regard to the rest of the pounds 407m.

Kenneth Trench, the head of the Maxwell pensioners action group, said the money was a poor return on the pounds 10m spent on professional fees and worked out at just pounds 15 for each of the 30,000 Maxwell pensioners.

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