Pub­lisher Robert Maxwell dies at sea

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

The body of the mil­lion­aire news­pa­per pub­lisher, Robert Maxwell, has been found in the sea off the coast of Tener­ife.

Mr Maxwell’s body was dis­cov­ered at ap­prox­i­mately 1800 lo­cal time (1700 GMT) and flown to Gran Ca­naria for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

The pub­lisher had been cruis­ing in the Ca­nary Isles aboard his lux­ury yacht, the Ghis­laine.

He is thought to have gone over­board early this morn­ing but was not re­ported miss­ing un­til about 1100 lo­cal time (1000 GMT) when he failed to an­swer a tele­phone call.

Two he­li­copters, res­cue launches and a dozen ships were then sent to the area to as­sist in the search.

It is not yet known how Mr Maxwell ended up over­board.

The Prime Min­is­ter, John Ma­jor, has led the trib­utes to Mr Maxwell, call­ing him a “great char­ac­ter”.

From hum­ble be­gin­nings in Cze­choslo­vakia, Robert Maxwell be­came one of Bri­tain’s rich­est men.

He en­listed in the Bri­tish army dur­ing World War II and was dec­o­rated for brav­ery.

He sub­se­quently worked for the For­eign Of­fice be­fore build­ing his busi­ness em­pire.

In 1984 he achieved a long-held am­bi­tion to own a na­tional news­pa­per when he bought the Daily Mir­ror.

Ear­lier this year Mr Maxwell also pur­chased a New York pa­per, the Daily News, which had been on the brink of clo­sure.

But at the same time he was be­ing forced to sell off com­pa­nies to re­duce his debts, prompt­ing crit­i­cism of his busi­ness meth­ods and abra­sive man­age­ment-style.

Deal­ing in shares in Mr Maxwell’s Mir­ror Group was sus­pended after the news of his dis­ap­pear­ance be­came pub­lic.

Mr Maxwell’s sons, Kevin and Ian, have been put in charge of his busi­nesses.

After Robert Maxwell’s death it emerged that the Mir­ror Group’s debts vastly out­weighed its as­sets and £440m was miss­ing from the com­pany’s pen­sion funds.

In 1996, after an eight-month trial, Kevin and Ian Maxwell and an­other man, Larry Tracht­en­berg, were cleared of con­spir­acy to de­fraud Mir­ror Group pen­sion­ers.

In 2001 the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try re­leased a re­port into the Maxwell af­fair which said “pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­ity” for the col­lapse of the Maxwell busi­ness em­pire lay with its founder.

But it added that Kevin Maxwell and some lead­ing City fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions also bore a “heavy re­spon­si­bil­ity” for the com­pany’s fail­ure. After Robert Maxwell’s death cam­paign­ers for the 30,000 Mir­ror Group pen­sion­ers mounted a three-year cam­paign for com­pen­sa­tion.

Their funds were largely re­cov­ered thanks to a £100m govern­ment pay­out and a £276m out-of-court set­tle­ment with City in­sti­tu­tions and the rem­nants of Robert Maxwell’s me­dia group.

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