Mark Leftly: Hubris led Nadir from his Cypriot villa to 10 years in a prison cell

Polly Peck's ex-boss could have opted to live out his life in luxury with his young wife, instead he arrogantly believed he could beat £28m theft charges

There have been plenty of duff puns going around on Asil Nadir's name. Take these two lame efforts: "This is Asil's Nadir" and "Asil has reached his Nadir". Ho-ho.

Pretty poor stuff, but it shows just how entertaining people have found the former Polly Peck International tycoon's fall, which on Thursday culminated in a 10-year jail sentence on 10 counts of theft totalling £28.6m.

Remarkably, it has taken more than two decades for Nadir to be imprisoned since Polly Peck collapsed with debts of £1.3bn and for 17 years of that time he was on the run. Or, more accurately, he was living a life of luxury off the coast of Northern Cyprus without fear of ever being tried for stealing millions of pounds from Polly Peck.

What has caused much laughter is that Nadir voluntarily came back in 2010, leaving his £3m villa, swimming pool and servants to prove his innocence rather than continue "trying to absorb this injustice" of what he argued were false allegations. He made similar claims in 2003, but then made what was clearly the sensible decision of staying put.

As he munched on his home-made sandwiches wrapped in foil last week, Nadir must have wondered why he had decided to swap his life of Davidoff cigars, Veuve Clicquot champagne and medallions of steak for the prospect of a jail sentence.

Just maybe, though, he didn't think that. Maybe he thought that whatever he said other people would naturally believe, be it due to a deluded perception of his own intellect, charisma or gravitas.

We all know the type: the boss who comes into the office after midday, shouts "good morning" at the top of their voice, thinking that those around them would believe it was closer to 9am just because they had said black was white. Think Tony Blair and the accounts of how he was so convinced of his own powers of persuasion, that he could charm anyone into following him.

Those bosses usually do have the presence that you will forgive and forget their deficiencies or even just accept whatever they say. Similarly, Blair was a master at taking people along with him, be it pushing through the Irish peace process or getting the US onside over the Kosovo conflict.

Eventually, though, others see through the brilliance of their personality that is simply clouding poorer truths. That's what I think drove Nadir to return: not the need to take the weight of implied guilt off his shoulders, but the need to be totally in command, even of other people's views.

It's easy to spot this trait in many a company chief executive. In fairness, that slightly sociopathic tendency, a need to prove their vision is the right vision, is probably necessary among those wanting to lead huge numbers of people.

But Nadir went a lot further, almost certainly due to a self-belief that can only have hardened when he transformed Polly Peck from a struggling textile firm in the late 1970s into a £2bn-valued fruit-to-fashion behemoth by 1989. Margaret Thatcher wrote Nadir a note thanking him for his support in the 1987 general election, while his success brought with it a personal jet, a fleet of luxury cars and a herd of pedigree beef cattle.

Even in Cyprus he cut a respected, authoritative figure, a true hero for his fellow Turkish Cypriots to follow. Since his return – and don't forget he arrived back in 1993 to be welcomed by kisses and hugs from an MP of the then-ruling party – Nadir and his family have focused on building up Kibris Media Group, which counts a newspaper and a TV station among its assets.

Nadir also met Nur, his second wife. Because of an age gap of more than 40 years, it has been easy to sneer of the reasons why such a glamorous woman would agree to marry a balding sexagenarian just 25 days after starting work at one of his companies.

However, few doubt Nur's devotion to Nadir. Before returning to the UK, Nadir even spoke of starting another family with her – he already has four children by his first wife and a former mistress.

Nadir was able to impress and woo Nur, which for many a man of his age would have been more than enough. Instead, he needed to go further and prove that he could still persuade the British courts that black was indeed white.

Which is why Nadir now faces rotting in jail until his early eighties, and is also why the young woman who loves him so much is the final victim in the whole Polly Peck affair.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Manchester United's kit for the 2014/15 season
football
News
Nadine Gordimer died peacefully at home yesterday
peopleNobel laureate was a powerful anti-Apartheid voice
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Programme Planner

£30000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

HTS GBM - KDB Developer, Kx Q Query Language, £750

£650 - £750 per day: Orgtel: Senior Analyst Developer (KDB/QKx plus Java and F...

Infrastructure Test Lead

£55000 - £60000 per annum + bonus + bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Our c...

Messaging Support Consultant

£40000 - £45000 per annum + bonus + bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Messa...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor