Tycoon happy in his exile home

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The Independent Online
FOR A man who once commanded a $4bn lemons-to-electronics empire, Asil Nadir appears surprisingly content in exile. One of his few sources of irritation is the persistent description of him in the media as a fugitive.

He says a fugitive is someone who is fleeing to a country that is not his own. He was born in northern Cyprus and his mother, his sister and his childhood friends are there. From his struggling Turkish Cypriot beginnings Nadir showed his entrepreneurial spirit early. Aged six he was selling newspapers on the streets of Famagusta.

The family moved to the East End of London in 1963 and set up a rag trade company. Nadir was quick to branch out, buying a cash- and-carry clothing business in Commercial Road and, through a series of deals, expanded his empire to the now notorious Polly Peck.

By its peak in the summer of 1990, Polly Peck was worth pounds 2bn and employed 30,000. But its collapse soon after left him bankrupt and facing pounds 30m fraud and theft charges.

In 1993, he fled to northern Cyprus, which is not recognised by the international community and has no extradition treaties with the UK.

He enjoys government support in the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and lives there quite openly. President Denktash gave the UK short shrift over its request to have Nadir handed back when he fled Britain. But the 57-year-old divorcee (he prefers the term bachelor) has not been idle during his exile. A year after his arrival he was operating two hotels and was already at work on a third, and controls northern Cyprus's biggest newspaper and a packaging group.

KATE WATSON-SMYTH

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