Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witness (Question 240-255)



  240. Can I conclude with three very simple points which I think are in front of us.
  (Mr Robinson) Can we have a moment? (Mr Robinson conferred with his solicitor) To me, it is a subsidiary issue, but it has been brought to my attention by my lawyer and with your permission I will read it out. I do not know the significance of it but what Bernard has put to me is the proposition is that you must declare that TransTec expected receipt. Do you have to declare an interest in each company that Transfer Technology trades with? "Taken to a logical conclusion, Geoffrey has to declare every person or company that Transfer Technology does business with." It is a good debating point. Nor is disclosure, to my way of thinking, the central issue. I am charged with something much more grave than that.

  241. Can I put what I think the complaints are that we need to determine? Was the Chairman and were the Committee misled by the answer to the question put to you in June 1998 which was, "Did you expect to receive any benefit of any kind in respect of your chairmanship of the company?"?
  (Mr Robinson) No.

  242. Is that because you define it very narrowly and specifically as chairman or—?
  (Mr Robinson) That was the issue because that was what was in the accounts. That was what I was charged with at the time. How else could I define it?

  243. If you had known in 1998 that you had raised an invoice for £200,000, would you have added that to your answer no?
  (Mr Robinson) Everything that subsequently became available by way of documentation I would have made available. None of it, to my way of thinking, says that I reaped any benefit from being a non-executive chairman of Hollis.

  244. Can I put to you that you are deliberately not answering the question I put to you? Would you have thought it proper, not necessarily a portmanteau, "I will give you everything", but specifically in answer to the question, "Did you expect to receive any benefit of any kind in respect of your chairmanship of the company?" you said, "No." If you had remembered the invoice you had raised for management services to Hollis Industries, would you have brought that to the attention of the Chairman of the Committee in 1998?
  (Mr Robinson) If I had known it, I would have.

  245. But you had forgotten it?
  (Mr Robinson) Yes.

Mr Campbell-Savours

  246. Would not the benefit you would have been expecting have been from the merger?
  (Mr Robinson) Yes.

  247. Did you not think about the benefits that might arise from the merger?
  (Mr Robinson) No.

  248. Why not?
  (Mr Robinson) My directorship with TransTec was registered anyway and in Central & Sheerwood. I paid tax on everything I had done in Central & Sheerwood.

Mr Bottomley

  249. That is a separate issue. You have already confirmed the benefit from the merger was bigger than the £200,000 which you say may not have been paid.
  (Mr Robinson) Which was not paid.

  250. Forgive me: there was evidence that it was paid. The question is where it was paid to.
  (Mr Robinson) It is quite incorrect, the reference the Commissioner makes to Kevin Maxwell's statement. To that must be added what comes afterwards. He says that whilst it was paid, what we cannot say because we do not know is where it was paid to.

  251. We had evidence of where it was paid. We cannot be sure that where it was paid to was where it ended up.
  (Mr Robinson) We do not know the person. It went into a bank.

  252. Can you tell us whether you believe Kevin Maxwell would know where that money was paid to and why you think he will not say?
  (Mr Robinson) I think about that all the time. I am sure one person knows and he is sadly in the Mount of Olives. I do not know whether Kevin knows or not. I suppose in so far as my supposition is and is bound to be that the money was paid to another beneficiary that was important and related to Maxwell, one of his companies or whatever, I cannot think where else it would have gone. It becomes incriminating at his end. Even if he knew, he would not probably tell us. I do not think Michael Stoney knows but I do not think it is for me to speculate whether Kevin does or not.

  253. One issue in front of us is whether we should properly conclude that you failed to provide the previous Commissioner and this Committee with full and accurate responses to questions. That failure, if it exists, would include a failure of memory over an exchange of correspondence over a period of months and an invoice which was raised after a discussion with Kevin Maxwell. Shall we take it from you that the reason you did not declare that in 1998 is that you had forgotten?
  (Mr Robinson) Yes.

  254. It was not because you thought it was not relevant but because you had forgotten it?
  (Mr Robinson) I had forgotten completely about it. I described how it came back to me when I was in the office with Jeremy and how I phoned Sami Ahmed in front of them both. He had forgotten and I had totally forgotten about it.


  255. Thanks for coming along and answering our questions in a fairly extended session today.
  (Mr Robinson) I do not imagine you can tell me what is going to happen but as soon as I can get the written agreement of Arthur Andersen the search will start and that will start irrespective of whether the Committee feels that the evidence is insufficient or not conclusive enough to uphold the complaints and agree with the Commissioner. That is going to go ahead anyway because even if you were—and I would be hopeful that you would not, because I cannot tell you any more than the truth, which I have told you absolutely—I am not going to lie to my colleagues. Irrespective of what conclusion you reach, supposing you were to say that the high level of proof required on the critical issue of where is the cheque is not sufficient, everybody is going to say that without the cheque there is a big question mark over my integrity. I do not know what my chances of finding the cheque are but I am absolutely determined to exhaust the boxes at Arthur Andersen and, if it is to be found, find it. That would, I hope, start straight away.

  Chairman: Thank you.

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