The controversial tycoon Asil Nadir last night threatened legal action against the police after being arrested for allegedly breaking his bail conditions. The former multi-millionaire businessman, 69, who spent years on the run in northern Cyprus before returning to the UK in August to face £34m theft charges, was arrested and questioned about alleged breaches of the terms of his curfew.
The industrialist was released from Charing Cross police station in London after family members and friends claimed they had CCTV footage disproving the allegations. Mr Nadir said last night that he had received an apology from the police.
The former Polly Peck business empire owner had been arrested yesterday at an address in the West End of London, where he rents a £20,000-a-month house with his wife Nur, 26.
The businessman was ordered to wear an electronic tag earlier this year as part of his £250,000 bail conditions, after facing 66 charges of theft from his company. He must wear the tag between midnight and 6am and report weekly to a north London police station. He had to surrender his passport and was prohibited from going near any airports.
The terms were imposed by an Old Bailey judge in September, who said Mr Nadir could face trial in October next year for allegedly bringing about the collapse of his company in 1991.
The trial may not take place until 2012 because of the complexity of the case. It is alleged that Mr Nadir secretly transferred £34m out of Polly Peck, which dealt in everything from fruit to fashion. His own stockbrokers lodged a bankruptcy petition against him in 1990 and demanded payment of £3.6m, sparking an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. Shares in Polly Peck crashed – with £160m wiped off its assets in one day, bringing about its collapse. With liabilities of £1.3bn, creditors were paid just 2.9p in the pound, and shareholders got nothing.
Mr Nadir was arrested and charged with theft and false accounting after being accused of transferring tens of millions of pounds out of the business and into secret accounts worldwide. But while protesting his innocence, he fled the UK for his native Cyprus in May 1993, and evaded trial for 17 years before voluntarily returning to Britain.
At the time, he said it was worth facing the risk of prison for the sake of clearing his name.
He said: "I am happy, but knowing the injustice that was practised on me, I want to get the authorities to rectify it. Time doesn't cure the pain. In order to find peace and solace within me I have to continue to search every avenue within legality to bring this matter to a conclusion in the manner that it deserves."
In his heyday, Mr Nadir transformed Polly Peck from an ailing textile firm into a global business empire, delivering huge returns to his shareholders that were worth 1,000 times more than they'd originally invested.
It was one of the biggest City success stories of the 1980s, and Mr Nadir was named 36th in the Sunday Times Rich List in the summer of 1990. He owned a dozen racehorses and numerous luxury properties – including an island in the Aegean.
He was also a major Conservative Party donor, a frequent visitor to Downing Street and a friend of the Royal Family.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman last night confirmed that Mr Nadir had been arrested and later released. He was unable to confirm whether an apology had been given.