Nadir vows to return and fight to clear his name

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Fugitive financier Asil Nadir is due to launch a court action this week against the Serious Fraud Office, claiming a breach of legal process.

The former boss of the collapsed Polly Peck International conglomerate says his lawyers will seek compensation from British authorities for millions of dollars in company shares he claims he lost during the seven years since investigations against him began.

A successful action by Mr Nadir would lead the avenue open for other Polly Peck shareholders to sue the SFO and other law agencies for their losses.

In an interview with the ITV programme The Cook Report, Mr Nadir also maintains he is prepared to return to this country to clear his name.

He is making his legal move following the successful appeal against conviction of his former adviser, Elizabeth Forsyth, two months ago. Mrs Forsyth is said to have returned voluntarily from Cyprus in l994, as a "stalking horse". The theory was that if she walked free, Mr Nadir would return to London.

He had fled to Northern Cyprus, with which the UK has no extradition treaty, in May l993, after a two-and-a-half-year SFO investigation resulted in charges that he had stolen pounds 30m from Polly Peck and had taken part in false accounting.

Mr Nadir is said to be much encouraged by the Court of Appeal ruling. He has instructed his solicitor, Peter Knight, of the London firm Vizards, to institute proceedings.

The action is expected to hinge on four sets of allegations. One is that Mr Nadir's defence papers were removed during raids on his premises by the SFO. These papers were then passed on to various law agencies, thus compromising his defence.

It is also alleged that Michael Francis, a police informer with a conviction for attempted murder, and a timeshare saleswoman, Wendy Welsher, were employed by police and the SFO to discredit Mr Nadir by implicating him in a fake "plot" to bribe the trial judge, Mr Justice Tucker. Mr Nadir's lawyers are also expected to claim that the businessman would not get a fair trial because of the deluge of publicity over the case. Kim Sengupta