Banker's 'risks' with Nadir cash

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The Independent Online
The former banker Elizabeth Forsyth took significant risks by carrying thousands of pounds in her briefcase as she laundered pounds 400,000 stolen by former Polly Peck chairman Asil Nadir, it was claimed yesterday.

Together with a circuitous route chosen to syphon funds from Polly Peck International through bank accounts in London and Switzerland, these risks proved that Forsyth was acting dishonestly, David Calvert-Smith,for the prosecution, told an Old Bailey court.

Nadir, he said, stole the cash to pay off debts run up through his private business enterprises.

In the late Eighties, Forsyth was employed as a chairman of South Audley Management, set up to control Nadir's private business, the court was told. Two years later, pounds 400,000 was transferred from Polly Peck International's London bank to Warburg's Bank, then to a Warburg's branch in Switzerland.

Mrs Forsyth went to Geneva in October 1989 to withdraw the money in cash, Mr Calvert-Smith said. The following day she deposited just more than pounds 300,000 in a different bank, with instructions that it should be transferred to AJ Bekhor, the London stockbroker, to whom money was allegedly owed.

Forsyth returned to Britain the next day and asked a chauffeur to bank the remaining cash, to pay money owed to Baggrave Farm - an estate Nadir owned in Leicestershire.

"We suggest her dishonest knowledge of the deal can be inferred as she was an experienced banker and must have been aware that interbank transfers of funds could be done quickly and easily by the banks themselves," Mr Calvert-Smith said.

But Mrs Forsyth's counsel, Geoffrey Robertson QC, told the jury that Nadir ordered her to go to Switzerland to stop bankers selling shares at rock-bottom prices after a Black Friday on the world markets.

While in Switzerland she was asked to undertake the pounds 400,000 transaction. "She had no reason to believe this money had been stolen by a man renowned in the world at the time," said Mr Robertson.

Forsyth, 59, from Great Dunmow, Essex, denies two charges of handling stolen cash. The case continues.