Appeals Court Rules Against Kevin Maxwell, Mirror Group Taken Off Market
LONDON (AP) _ Kevin Maxwell must tell investigators everything he knows about the millions missing from the pension funds of his father’s collapsed publishing empire, the Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday.
A three-judge appeals panel dismissed Maxwell’s appeal that he had the right to remain silent because of the risk that he might incriminate himself in the face of potential criminal charges.
A High Court later gave him until next Wednesday to prepare a statement telling what he knows about the missing money.
Kevin Maxwell briefly took over as head of some key Maxwell operations after his father Robert’s mysterious death at sea last November.
Robert Maxwell allegedly misappropriated pension funds and other assets in an effort to keep his media empire afloat.
The empire has since collapsed under the weight of its debts and allegations that he diverted more than $1.2 billion to support the share price of Maxwell Communication Corp. PLC, service debts and cover operating losses.
In a separate development, court-appointed administrators for the Maxwells’ private holdings announced that the family’s 51 percent holding in Mirror Group Newspapers PLC was no longer being offered for sale.
The administrators are trying to sell Maxwell assets to repay debts, but the job is complicated by the missing funds and allegations that Maxwell assets were pledged to more than one party for loans.
It’s not known how much of the Mirror Group shares are available for sale.
The Mirror Group stake had been considered the most valuable asset the Maxwell family owns. It was worth $460 million at the share price at which the Mirror Group stock was trading when dealings were suspended on Dec. 2.
Administrator John Talbot said in a statement that the administrators ″are cooperating with the board of MGN and will give consideration to the timing of any sale of the shares, if appropriate, when comprehensive information is available from the board.″
The administrators have received ″many approaches″ from possible buyers of the Mirror Group stake, he said.
The possible buyers included Mirror Group management, but at least two potential bidders, Lonrho PLC and Pearson PLC, dropped out.
Neil Cooper, the provisional liquidator of the Maxwell-controlled Bishopsgate Investment Management, had obtained an order from the High Court that Kevin Maxwell should tell what he knows about the pension funds.
The appeals court ruling means that Maxwell must comply with those orders as Cooper investigates where the missing money went.
″We attach importance to the questioning being able to continue,″ the judges said.
The prosecuting agency called the Serious Fraud Office is investigating various matters related to the Maxwell media empire.
The appeals court refused Kevin Maxwell permission to appeal to the House of Lords, Britain’s highest court, although he has the right to petition the law lords for such permission.
Maxwell, who also faces questioning from a House of Commons select committee on the same matter, refused to comment on the decision.
His attorney, Monty Raphael, said: ″Obviously Mr. Maxwell is disappointed with the outcome and will review his position today. He will act on legal advice.″
Although Maxwell lost the Bishopsgate case, the appeals court ruled that he does not have to comply with a court order requiring him to answer questions from Mirror Group in its search for $306 million of other missing funds.