Nadir fled after plot to bribe judge

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The Independent Online
EVIDENCE that Asil Nadir fled Britain after the failure of an alleged conspiracy to bribe the judge in his forthcoming trial emerged yesterday as the Serious Fraud Office admitted that it had been tipped off two days before the bankrupt Polly Peck tycoon fled.

An arrest warrant was issued for the Turkish Cypriot businessman at the Old Bailey yesterday for breaching his pounds 3.5m bail conditions.

Nadir yesterday faxed a letter to Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, offering to come back to Britain in return for bail allowing unlimited travel abroad. The Home Office said Nadir would have to make representations to the courts and that bail conditions would be 'entirely in their hands'.

Nadir, meanwhile, emerged self- confidently into the sunlight of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, where no British writ can touch him, to tell a Turkish newspaper: 'My conscience is clear . . . . There was never such an investigation, even in Stalin's Russia. Every time a judge said there was no case to be answered, officials charged me with something else.'

Senior police and legal sources have confirmed that Scotland Yard is investigating allegations that attempts were made on Nadir's behalf to influence his trial. These allegedly included plans to try to bribe the trial judge, Mr Justice Tucker. The Independent has learnt that inquiries had been started earlier this year after the discovery by the Serious Fraud Office of a secret fund in a Swiss bank. The fund, apparently created by foreign supporters of Nadir, is said to have totalled pounds 3.5m.

The Major and International Organised Crime Branch of the Metropolitan Police found no evidence that Mr Justice Tucker had any involvement, and has not interviewed him. The investigation continues. A spokesman said that inquiries are being made into 'alleged financial irregularities'.

Sources indicate that Nadir, 51, feared that charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice would have ended his bail. He was due to appear at the Old Bailey in September on 13 charges of theft and false accounting involving more than pounds 30m.

His decision to jump bail may also have been provoked by a raid on his house in London last month by the solicitors administering his bankruptcy, during which documents relating to his planned trial defence were confiscated.

The Serious Fraud Office confirmed yesterday that it had been tipped off in an anonymous telephone call last Sunday, two days before he absconded. The SFO said: 'Action, appropriate to the circumstances, was taken by police.' It seems that a warning was issued to all ports but that measures were relaxed when Nadir reported to West End central police station as normal on Monday night.

Relatives of Ramadan Guney, the London-based Turkish Cypriot businessman who gave Nadir a pounds 1m bail surety, deniedthat Mr Guney tipped off the SFO. He is now trying to persuade the courts that he should not forfeit his money. He and the other surety, Nadir's former wife, have have been granted a month's breathing space. It is believed that Mr Guney made an application to withdraw from the bail arrangement at the Old Bailey last Friday but that no judge was available to hear it.

Mr Justice MacPherson ordered Nadir's solicitors to stop detailed work on his defence. He had been eligible for legal aid as a bankrupt.

The SFO confirmed that it would pursue its case against John Turner, Polly Peck's former group chief accountant. A preparatory hearing has been fixed for 15 June.

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