Tycoon 'almost paranoid over way empire was run'

The Maxwell Trial; Day 10
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The Independent Online

Financial Correspondent

Robert Maxwell was "almost paranoid" about the way his business empire was run and it "boosted his ego" to think that it needed two sons to take over from him, an Old Bailey jury was told yesterday.

As a result he groomed his sons to concentrate on different parts of the organisation, according to Trevor Cook, the group's former pension fund administrator. He told the jury at the trial of Kevin and Ian Maxwell and two Maxwell advisers that Ian concentrated on the publishing side and Kevin on finance.

Mr Cook said Robert Maxwell held some board meetings of the pension fund without telling all the directors. The late tycoon also sometimes used "standard minutes" which were prepared before the meeting.

Cross-examined by Edmund Lawson QC, for Ian Maxwell, Mr Cook said Robert Maxwell made the decisions and only delegated responsibility after he had made up his mind.

He agreed that the tycoon "did not like anything to be done without his knowledge and was almost paranoid about it". He always had to be the one who made the important decisions in the group. As the head of the business he also regarded the pensions fund as something to be handled by him, and "not his sons". Mr Cook said: "The pension fund was very much his own forte."

Robert Maxwell's death in November 1991 threw the group into an "administrative shambles". For the next few days both sons were "worked off their feet", Mr Cook agreed. Ian took over the helm of running the Mirror newspapers and the European while his brother became immersed in the financial aspects of the organisation.

Kevin, 36, Ian, 38, Robert Bunn, 47, a former finance director and Larry Trachtenberg, 42, a financial adviser all deny conspiracy to defraud. Kevin also denies a further charge of conspiring with his late father to defraud the pension fund.

Mr Cook denied a claim by Michael Hill QC, for Mr Trachtenberg, that after Maxwell died, Mr Cook not only lied but also created documents to put himself in the "best possible light". He said after Maxwell's death he had pieced together what information he could glean in the organisation. It was like a "very complicated jigsaw puzzle of which I was only being given a very few pieces".

The trial continues today.