Witness denies memory lapse

The Maxwell Trial; Day 21
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The Independent Online
JOHN WILLCOCK

Financial Correspondent

A witness in the fraud trial of Kevin and Ian Maxwell was brought to the brink of tears yesterday after a defence lawyer alleged that she had a faulty memory and lacked proper training for her former job as company treasurer.

Jane Roberts, 32, said on Tuesday that Kevin Maxwell, Robert Maxwell's youngest son, told her in 1991 to delete company records to make it appear that company debts were smaller than they really were.

She also said that money from the sale of Maxwell pension fund assets was paid to Robert Maxwell's private companies and not to the pension funds.

Yesterday, Ms Roberts became the first of seven witnesses who have appeared to request a break in the proceedings, when cross-examination from Kevin Maxwell's lawyer brought her close to tears.

She returned to court from a later break with red, puffy eyes, and answered several questions in a near whisper.

Kevin Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to defraud by using pension fund assets - shares in a company called Scitex - to raise loans for private firms. He and Ian Maxwell and two former Maxwell directors, Robert Bunn and Larry Trachtenberg, have also pleaded not guilty over alleged misuse of other pension funds.

One of Kevin Maxwell's lawyers, Claire Montgomery, accused Ms Roberts of knowing in 1991 that the pension funds sold Scitex shares to the private Maxwell companies, but the witness denied that.

Ms Roberts said pounds 100m due to the pension funds from private Maxwell companies was never paid, although she was shown a letter to her in 1991 from a pensions administrator saying a "cash movement" on the deal took place.

Ms Montgomery questioned Ms Roberts about her allegation that she found it "strange" when Kevin had ordered her to make adjustments in account details involving pounds 30m to pounds 40m shortly before his father's death on 5 November l991.

Shown documents she had never seen before, Ms Roberts accepted her memory might have "faded" about what actually happened with relation to inter-company accounts.

Counsel suggested that Kevin and another Maxwell aide had asked her to make the adjustments in trying to agree balances on the accounts.

Ms Roberts said that she could not remember any conversation about such matters but added: "I can remember going to Kevin's office and making those adjustments."

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