Robert Maxwell was born Jan Ludvik Hoch
in June 1923 in Slatinske Dòly
in what would later become the Czech Republic
. He fled the Nazi
invasion of Czecholovakia
in 1939 and settled in Britain
, though most of his family was killed in the Holocaust
. Maxwell fought in World War II
- well, he was in the Army Catering Corps
- then began a career in publishing.
He soon finagled a controlling share in Pergamon Press, which he built into a successful publishing house specializing in trade journals and technical and scientific books. Most of his major contracts were in local authorities and educational establishments which Maxwell courted, wined and dined while establishing enormous lines of credit with overseas banks.
Based partly on this success at "networking", Maxwell won a seat in Parliament, serving as a Labour MP between 1964–70. He diversified his publishing interests through leverage purchases of Mirror Group Newspapers, Macmillan, a U.S. publishering house, and The New York Daily News.
Maxwell was an out-and-out crook. Financial scandals followed him throughout his career and even after his death. In 1969 he was forced to surrender control of Pergamon in a financial scandal that also cost him his political career, and in 1991 he sought public funds through a stock offering to keep the Mirror Group afloat.
When the Israeli whistleblower Mordecai Vanunu fled and sought sanctuary in Britain after revealing Israel's covert and illegal Nuclear Weapons Programme in The Times and the Daily Telegraph, Maxwell ordered Mirror Group journalists to track him down and when they done so, fingered him to Mossad. Not only that, he also had anti-Vanunu stories run as part of a quite well-documented disinformation campaign.
In 1980, Maxwell took a controlling interest in British Printing Corporation, a listed company later to become Maxwell Communication Corporation (MCC). and in the course of this expansion, he became the darling of many leading professional advisers and investment banks who were eager to lend money to him or advise on corporate acquisitions, all of which provided them with outrageous consultancy fees, but by 1991, Mirror Group had become a strong cash-earner while MCC and the indebted private side were in crisis. Maxwell was obsessed with the MCC share price, especially in comparison to Rupert Murdoch's News International corporation, and so manipulated the market, secretly buying MCC shares through Goldman Sachs.
In order to raise the money for these shares, Maxwell stole the Mirror Group pension fund and tried to fiddle the accounts in order to hide what he'd done.
Maxwell drowned in 1991 during the height of the investigation and scandal while sailing on his private yacht off the Azores. How much the global sea level rose as a result of this is unknown, but i daresay several villages in Bangladesh caught the sharp end. An inquest returned an accidental death verdict. He was buried in Jerusalem.