Who, If Anyone, Helped Maxwell Siphon Millions?
LONDON (AP) _ Robert Maxwell’s sons Kevin and Ian, and their American adviser, Larry Trachtenberg, are key figures in the investigation of the late publisher’s frantic financial maneuvers to save his disintegrating empire.
A coterie of advisers also is under scrutiny, but no one has been criminally charged.
In what is emerging as Britain’s largest financial scandal, $1.2 billion was taken from public and private Maxwell companies to finance huge debts and cover losses at private Maxwell companies including the Daily News of New York.
Investigators have said they believe Bishopsgate Investment Management Ltd., the main Maxwell pension fund management company, was the vehicle for Maxwell’s manipulations.
Although Maxwell was ″obviously central,″ the operation possibly continued after his death at sea Nov. 5, said Neil Cooper, a provisional liquidator of Bishopsgate.
Small transactions required the signature of one officer, the large ones of two, investigators have said. The Independent on Sunday newspaper said Kevin and Ian’s signatures were seen on documents authorizing the transfer of pension fund cash and stocks.
Two directors remain at Bishopsgate, Trevor Cook, the manager of the pension fund of the publicly held Mirror Group Newspaper PLC, and Ron Woods, a Maxwell Communication tax adviser.
These are the key people in the investigation:
-KEVIN MAXWELL, 32, publisher of the Daily News. He was viewed as the businessman among Robert Maxwell’s seven children and the heir-apparent.
Kevin Maxwell previously was vice chairman of Maxwell Communication’s U.S. publishing arm, Macmillan Inc., and had been Maxwell Communication’s chief executive for four months when his father died. He then became Maxwell Communication’s chairman, but resigned last week from both public Maxwell companies’ boards.
Substantial evidence links Maxwell to Bishopsgate transactions, investigators said Tuesday. A court has ordered him to disclose what he knows about Bishopsgate’s affairs. His assets, up to 450 million pounds or $810 million, have been frozen and he has been given 1,500 pounds a week for living expenses. His wife Pandora said they plan to sell their London home.
Maxwell improperly borrowed 6 million German marks, about $3.8 million, from a joint venture between Robert Maxwell Holdings and Gruner and Jahr of Hamburg after his father died, Gruner and Jahr spokeswoman Sigrid Berenberg confirmed Wednesday. The loan was improper because Gruner and Jahr was not informed, she said. The loan has not been recovered, she said.
-IAN MAXWELL, 35, succeeded his father as head of Mirror Group Newspapers. He resigned last week, in addition to stepping down as a director of Bishopsgate, Mirror Group and Maxwell Communication.
Maxwell had worked for his father for years, but reportedly less closely than Kevin, and was Mirror Group’s deputy chairman when his father died. He previously was joint managing director of Maxwell Communication.
Like his brother, Ian Maxwell has been ordered to surrender his passport, disclose what he knows about Bishopsgate by the end of the week and hand over documents.
-LARRY TRACHTENBERG, an American reported to be a trusted Maxwell family adviser, was appointed a director of Bishopsgate in October and resigned last week. He was active in a Bishopsgate-related company called London and Bishopsgate.
He has also been ordered to surrender his passport and disclose what he knows about the missing funds.
The Sunday Times quoted unidentified officials familiar with the investigation as saying Robert Maxwell ordered Trachtenberg to gather almost 100 million pounds worth of share certificates from London and Bishopsgate and place them in Maxwell’s personal safe in late June. The shares were sold or mortgaged, the newspaper said.
Trachtenberg, a former lecturer in computer studies at the London School of Economics and a former lecturer at Oxford University, helped develop an investment system for tracking the performance of broad stock market indices. -MICHAEL STONEY, who resigned last week as deputy managing director, finance, of Mirror Group, the newspaper company which has said 350 million pounds was milked from its pension fund.
Stoney, described as a close Maxwell ally, was promoted over Lawrence Guest, Mirror Group’s finance director, on Oct. 21, the day Guest confronted Robert Maxwell about missing funds, The Sunday Times has reported.
Stoney has held various posts in private Maxwell companies, including deputy managing director of Robert Maxwell Holdings.
-JONATHAN FORD was a finance director of London and Bishopsgate. He is a former Coopers and Lybrand Deloitte accountant.
-ALAN STEPHENS, a former Bishopsgate director, resigned as company secretary to Maxwell Communication on Nov. 14. He is under a court order to disclose what he knows about Bishopsgate and surrender documents.
-RON WOODS is a director of Bishopsgate and a director in charge of tax at Maxwell Communication. He is cooperating with the Bishopsgate investigators, they said.
-ROBERT BUNN, an officer of a unidentified Maxwell company involved in a ″chain of transactions.″ The Bishopsgate investigators said they want to talk to him. They didn’t identify him further.