SFO decision today on Maxwells

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The Independent Online
JOHN WILLCOCK

Financial Correspondent

Kevin and Ian Maxwell will discover today whether the Serious Fraud Office intends to pursue or drop the oustanding criminal charges against them, following their sensational acquittal on two counts a week ago. The original indictment consisted of 10 counts, two of which formed the basis of the eight-month trial which ended with the acquittal of Kevin and Ian and Larry Trachtenberg, a former Maxwell financial adviser, on charges of conspiracy to defraud.

City sources said last night that if the SFO drops the remaining eight counts Frank Field MP will call the Maxwell brothers before the Social Security Select Committee.

The MPs tried to quiz Kevin and Ian in 1992, after the death of their father Robert Maxwell and the collapse of his business empire.

The committee wanted to know how more than pounds 440m was removed from the Maxwell pension funds. Both brothers told the committee that they were unable to say anything, pending the criminal case.

If today the SFO drops any remaining criminal charges then Mr Field and his committee will be free to call them again. Last night he said: "Our primary concern will be how well the legal system and the regulatory system protected pounds 440m in the pension funds, which no one disputes was stolen. The question remains how it was stolen."

The remaining eight counts on the indictment include charges against two other former Maxwell employees, Michael Stoney and Albert Fuller.

The charges were that:

Kevin Maxwell, Larry Trachtenberg and Albert Fuller conspired with Robert Maxwell to defraud Credit Suisse by dishonestly pledging shares belonging to Macmillan and to First Tokyo Index Trust as collateral for a pounds 50m loan to Mirror Group.

Kevin Maxwell and Albert Fuller conspired with Robert Maxwell to defraud Bayersiche Vereinsbank by pledging 1 million Berlitz shares as collateral for a pounds 25m loan to Mirror Group.

Kevin Maxwell conspired with Robert Maxwell to defraud the Swiss Bank Corporation by dishonestly pledging and selling shares belonging to First Tokyo Index Trust.

Kevin Maxwell and Larry Trachtenberg conspired with Robert Maxwell to defraud the trustees and beneficiaries of the Mirror Group Pension Scheme and AGB Pension Scheme by dishonestly pledging pension assets to secure loans from Credit Suisse and Swiss Volksbank to the private Maxwell businesses.

Kevin Maxwell and Michael Stoney, a former finance director of Mirror Group, conspired with Robert Maxwell to borrow pounds 50m on behalf of MGN and use the proceeds for other purposes.

Michael Stoney falsified the accounting records of MGN by removing the receipt of pounds 50m from Bankers Trust. And that he removed the record of MGN's liability to Brankers Trust.

Kevin Maxwell, Larry Trachtenberg and Ian Maxwell conspired to defraud Swiss Volksbank by dishonestly pledging 2.4 million shares in Berlitz as security for a $35m loan to the private Maxwell businesses.

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