Nadir gives conditions for his return

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Asil Nadir, the former Polly Peck boss who fled to Northern Cyprus while facing fraud charges, yesterday said he would return to face trial only if a new government were elected and key regulatory figures replaced.

In a bizarre press conference with British journalists via a radio link from Northern Cyprus, he accused the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Scotland Yard, the Inland Revenue and the Government of conspiring to frame him. He would only receive a fair trial if a new government was elected which had "clean hands", he said.

The conference, in London, was held to launch a book, Who Killed Polly Peck?, by Nadir's former business associate Elizabeth Forsyth. The 59- year-old grandmother was unable to attend as she has been jailed for five years for handling pounds 400,000 stolen by Nadir, who fled in May 1993 while being investigated by the SFO on 13 charges of fraud and false accounting amounting to pounds 34m. They concerned the collapse of his fruit-packing-to- electronics group, Polly Peck, a 1980s star of the stock market which crashed in 1990.

Yesterday Nadir reiterated that the authorities and "people with money" were out to get him, not least because the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not recognised by Britain. When asked if he would really return to face trial, he replied: "I certainly will. No regulatory authority and no government is in power for ever. Thank God there is a certain amount of democratic election and we know the elections are approaching. I hope the British public will give their view of what they think of the British government."

He defended his decision not to return to help Forsyth's defence, saying the judge refused to allow a video link for him to testify and be cross- examined. Forsyth's fate was a "great disappointment from a British justice point of view".

Nadir said he had been unjustly persecuted by the SFO, Scotland Yard and the Department of Public Prosecutions.

Nadir cultivated political contacts while in Britain. He famously sent a wristwatch to the former Tory minister Michael Mates with the inscription "Don't let the bastards grind you down" on the back.

The self-made man from Nicosia also contributed thousands of pounds to the Conservatives. Asked whether he regretted these donations, he said: "I never regret anything in my life. I regret having trusted the authorities."

Polly Peck was in the top 100 companies on the UK stock market in 1990 and was worth pounds 2bn. It hit trouble that year when Nadir tried to buy the company back into private ownership without properly consulting his City advisers. Following a Stock Exchange inquiry the company went into administration. Shareholders lost everything.

Yesterday Nadir sent them a message, saying he would pay them back when he had proved his innocence.

"My battle is two-pronged - one is to clear my name, and two is to ensure that at the appropriate time Polly Peck shareholders, by being active, get compensated in two ways.

"Firstly, with what I am endeavouring to build for them, which I will share with them at the end of the day, and two is by them fighting to seek the truth, because the truth is only their only weapon in this unjust affair."