Nadir aide 'laundered pounds 400,000'

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The Independent Online
A financial adviser helped her boss, Asil Nadir, launder nearly pounds 400,000 he had stolen from Polly Peck, the company he owned, an Old Bailey jury heard yesterday.

Nadir, who was then chairman and chief executive of Polly Peck, stole the cash to pay private debts, said David Calvert-Smith, prosecuting.

Nadir used Elizabeth Forsyth, 59, his personal financial assistant, to deal with the money. Mrs Forsyth, of Great Dunmow, Essex, denies two charges of handling stolen cash in October 1989.

The court heard that under Nadir, who fled Britain in 1993, Polly Peck expanded quickly. By 1987 it was regarded as one of Britain's top 100 companies.

Nadir had a 25-per-cent shareholding, worth more than pounds 300m, and exercised a high level of personal control over the company's affairs, said Mr Calvert- Smith.

Nadir met Mrs Forsyth when she worked for Citibank in Berkeley Square, Mayfair. "She was a manager dealing with . . . high net worth individuals - she probably means very rich people - helping to manage their tax affairs and investments," Mr Calvert-Smith said.

One such customer was Nadir, whom she met in 1985. She left the bank in 1987 to become Nadir's personal financial adviser. She was paid pounds 45,000 a year - pounds 25,000 in this country, the rest where she specified - plus a car and expenses.

Their criminal activities began in October 1989 after Nadir issued cheques on Polly Peck accounts for his own personal benefit, the court was told.

At that time, the only limitation on him was a law banning a company director from misusing company funds and "his own conscience", Mr Calvert- Smith added.

"[Nadir] needed a large sum of money to pay some private debts. The Crown suggest he stole that money from Polly Peck and used Mrs Forsyth to launder the money, so when it was used to pay those debts, there was no trace the money had come from Polly Peck."

Had he asked his fellow directors to authorise the cheques he was issuing they would undoubtedly have refused to do so. "He never sought their authorisation," Mr Calvert-Smith added. "[Nadir's] conscience, we say, failed to prevent him committing the offence of theft.

"The Crown have to prove so you are sure that Mr Nadir stole the money and, if we are successful in that, that Mrs Forsyth knew or believed the money was stolen when she dealt with it. We . . . allege that Mrs Forsyth knew or believed that the money was stolen."

The trial continues.