MORE than a quarter of a century ago, media mogul and fraudster Robert Maxwell died under bizarre circumstances.
The body of the publishing baron and British MP was found floating in the ocean naked after he vanished from his luxury yacht in the Canary Islands.
But while an inquest ruled his death was the result of a heart attack and accidental drowning, conspiracy theories swirled, with many believing Mr Maxwell met with foul play.
That theory was all the more convincing as three pathologists couldn’t agree on the cause of his death at the inquest.
It has also emerged the 68-year-old was due to meet high-profile Bank of England figures on the day he died.
It was supposed to be Mr Maxwell’s “day of reckoning”, as he was expected to explain the financial troubles plaguing his companies, Maxwell Communication Corporation and Mirror Group holdings, with two loans totalling 17 million still outstanding.
And after he died, it was also revealed Mr Maxwell had stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from his companies’ own pension fund in a desperate bid to improve the share price, which was seriously struggling.
Before the accident, Mr Maxwell, who escaped Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia in his youth, had also been accused of being a long-time agent for Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency.
And in 1991, Labour MP George Galloway called Mr Maxwell “one of the worst criminals of the century”.
Now, Kevin and Ian Maxwell have spoken about their father’s death for the first time in an interview with the Sunday Times.
Kevin Maxwell, 59, told the publication he had gotten into a “shouting match” with his father over the phone the night before he died, because the younger man wanted to prepare more thoroughly for the important bank meeting.
He admitted to being “a bit hacked off” over his father’s position, and he said he didn’t call him first thing in the morning as he was still angry at him.
When he finally called around 10am, he was told his father was gone.
But another son, Ian Maxwell, now 62, told the paper he didn’t believe the conspiracy theories surrounding his notorious father’s death.
“In 27 years I’ve never speculated: was he killed or did he kill himself?” he said.
“If I say anything about it, I think it is highly unlikely that he would have taken his own life, it wasn’t in his makeup or mentality.
“I don’t think any murder conspiracy stands up, so for me, it is an unexplained accident and I’m content to live with that.”
He also described the sometimes volatile relationship Mr Maxwell had with his children.
“The embrace was suffocating and so loving and everything came your way, but then if you were far away in disgrace or you had blotted your copybook, no matter what you had done you were cast out,” he said.
Both sons were tried and later acquitted of fraud charges relating to their positions within their dad’s companies and the 43 million Mirror Group pension fund scandal.
Kevin Maxwell was eventually was declared bankrupt, with debts of around 33 million.
These days, the brothers tend to stay out of the spotlight.