The Maxwell Trial: Defendant recovers as director tells of Scitex deal

Day 39
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Robert Bunn, a former Maxwell aide on trial with Kevin and Ian Maxwell at the Old Bailey, had a heart attack last Friday but should be well enough to return to court at the end of August.

The six-month trial had been adjourned for three days this week because of Mr Bunn's illness. Mr Justice Phillips decided yesterday that witnesses will appear while Mr Bunn is away.

Mr Bunn's counsel, Peter Rook QC, told the jury yesterday that the defendant had suffered a heart attack after being sent to hospital by his GP. Mr Bunn, a former finance director of Maxwell Communication Corporation, should be able to go home in the next few days, said Mr Rook. He should be fit to return to the trial after the August recess, the QC added.

After news of Mr Bunn, a witness from Barclays Bank told the court that Kevin Maxwell never told Barclays that pounds 100m was due to be repaid to the Maxwell Group's pension fund from the sale of Scitex shares.

The shares were sold forpounds 139m about two months before Robert Maxwell died on 5 November 1991, but Barclays Bank was not aware of the liability to the pension fund, said Richard Pelly, a corporate finance director of the bank.

Alan Suckling QC, prosecuting on behalf of the Serious Fraud Office, asked: "Were you ever told of any interest of the pension fund in Scitex?"

"No," replied Mr Pelly.

"Were you ever told by Kevin Maxwell that any money had to be paid to the pension fund in respect of Scitex?"

"At no stage."

Mr Pelly said he would have been "very interested" in the pension fund's interest because it had been always indicated to him that the Scitex shares were available to repay debts due to Barclays from private companies owned by Robert Maxwell.

Barclays received no Scitex cash. It went to other banks, he said. It was only after Maxwell's death that he heard about the pension fund's position.

Mr Bunn, Kevin and Ian Maxwell and another former Maxwell executive, Larry Trachtenberg, all deny conspiracy to defraud. Kevin alone denies conspiring with his father to defraud the pension fund by misuse of the pounds 100m Scitex investments.

Mr Pelly agreed that he had described Robert Maxwell as an unorthodox, domineering and devious entrepreneur who managed his multi-million pound publishing empire by "fear".

Mr Pelly saw much more of Kevin that he did of his father and he had noted that some plans suggested by Kevin became "less realistic and more desperate" as1991 went by. The trial continues.