Pact may speed attempts to recover Maxwell cash

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The Independent Online
ARTHUR ANDERSEN, administrators to the Maxwell private companies, have agreed with Robson Rhodes, the accountants attempting to recover money for Maxwell pensioners, to split any recoveries between them, so avoiding costly legal action.

The move - revealed in evidence yesterday by John Talbot, of Andersen, to the House of Commons Social Security Select Committee - could pave the way for Robson Rhodes to speed up claims against banks holding an estimated pounds 186m of assets taken from Maxwell pension funds.

A deal in which Andersen gives up its claim on these disputed funds could make it difficult for banks to defend legal action by Robson Rhodes to recover the pension fund assets, which were used by Robert Maxwell as collateral for loans.

Robson Rhodes has already recovered nearly pounds 30m of shares in an Israeli company held by National Westminster Bank after Andersen gave up a rival claim.

Mr Talbot told the committee that Andersen had spent pounds 11m recovering pounds 110m for creditors who were owed pounds 1.5bn. These costs were made up of pounds 6m of fees to Andersen and pounds 5m of legal costs.

He said he expected to realise another pounds 50m from the sale of British International Helicopters, property and investments in Hungary and France plus tax refunds, but this would cost another pounds 4m.

But he declined to set a date for the sale of Mirror Group Newspapers, by far the most substantial item in his portfolio.

Mr Talbot said he anticipated significant recoveries from his firm's attempts to track down missing money, although relatively few aspects of this investigation work were complete.

He detailed the inflows and outflows from Maxwell private companies last year, which inluded pounds 25m going to PH (US) Inc, controlled by the Maxwell Foundation in Liechtenstein, and pounds 253m spent on buying shares in Maxwell's public companies, Maxwell Communication Corporation and Mirror Group Newspapers.