Kevin Maxwell faces financial Waterloo as deadlines loom

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The Independent Online

Kevin Maxwell, the son of the disgraced newspaper tycoon, Robert, faces a financial meltdown this week.

Kevin Maxwell, the son of the disgraced newspaper tycoon, Robert, faces a financial meltdown this week.

The controversial businessman is battling to avoid personal bankruptcy and to stop the winding-up of his main remaining business interest.

The High Court will hear an application on Wednesday to wind up Meynard Freres, the finance operation run by Mr Maxwell (pictured right), Malcolm Grumbridge, a long-time associate of the Maxwell family, and Larry Trachtenberg, an American-born financier who ran businesses for Robert Maxwell before his death in 1991.

Both Mr Trachtenberg and Mr Maxwell were acquitted of fraud and theft offences relating to the disappearance of more than £400m from the pension funds of companies in the Maxwell empire, which collapsed in late 1991. Mr Maxwell was declared bankrupt when he was deemed responsible for the losses, but discharged his bankruptcy three years later.

Mr Maxwell then set up a telecoms company, Telemonde, which was listed on the Nasdaq market in the US. However, this company, where Mr Trachtenberg was also a director, collapsed two years ago.

Since then, Mr Maxwell has been operating via Meynard Freres, a business he set up in the mid-1990s. It has been active doing financial and property deals.

It was involved a few months ago in the purchase of the business and assets of Astec Engineering Services, a Midlands business that had run into difficulty and was restructuring under a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). The CVA was supervised by a north London insolvency practitioner, David Rubin.

Mr Rubin presented a winding-up petition against Meynard Freres at the High Court on 24 June because of moneys still owning under the Astec deal. A hearing is due on Wednesday and if Meynard does not pay up it is likely to be closed down.

No one at Meynard returned calls when contacted about the potential winding-up.

Mr Maxwell faces being declared bankrupt before this happens. Judge Michael Payne at Oxford Crown Court gave him 45 days in the middle of June to pay a debt of £1bn owing to a company called Global Investment.

The grace was given to Mr Maxwell to allow him to sell assets to pay the money.

This 45 days runs out tomorrow, and if Mr Maxwell has not paid, Global can take him back to court and have him declared bankrupt. Global's solicitors, Beachcroft Wansbroughs, was not able to confirm that any money had been paid. Global had previously issued a petition to wind up Maynard Freres but that petition was dismissed in May.

Despite his financial problems, Mr Maxwell, 45, lives in a 40-room home, Moulsford Manor, overlooking the Thames near Oxford. The house, which is held in the name of his wife, Pandora, was put up for sale with a £3m price tag last year. But after six months on the market it was withdrawn.

Family money has enabled all of his six children to be educated privately and the eldest, Tilly, is studying at Oxford. Mr Maxwell is often seen dining at top London restaurants such as Locanda Locatelli and The Wolseley.

He was unavailable for comment on his financial problems.