Asil Nadir faces jail after being found guilty of plundering millions of pounds from his own Polly Peck business empire

 

After 17 years of self-imposed exile in Northern Cyprus, the former fugitive Asil Nadir is facing jail after he was convicted of plundering millions of pounds from his own business empire.

Nadir, 71, was found guilty of three counts of theft after a prosecution led by the Serious Fraud Office had accused him of stealing some £150 million from his companies to spend on family, cars and expensive properties. He was cleared of one count of theft and jurors will return to the Old Bailey today to consider a further nine.

The verdicts appeared to represent an error of judgment by Nadir, one of the country’s most famous fugitives of the last 20 years who returned to Britain after fleeing the country “a broken man” just before he was due to stand trial at the Old Bailey in 1993.

The businessman had denied 13 specimen charges of stealing £34 million between 1987 and 1990 and blamed the authorities for the failure of his near £2 billion fruit-to electronics group, Polly Peck International (PPI), in 1990. Nadir – whose wife Nur, 28, stood by the side of the Old Bailey dock – appeared shocked as the first verdicts were announced by the jury.

Nadir, a former rag salesman, bought Polly Peck for around £300,000 in 1980 before building it up with a series of mergers and acquisitions under his leadership into a sprawling empire that was one of the success stories of the 1980s. He purchased the fresh fruit division of Del Monte and acquired a major stake in Sansui, a Japanese electronics firm, during its period of growth.

However Nadir, the chairman and chief executive, was being questioned about large cash flows to Turkish and North Cypriot subsidiaries and he fought attempts for stricter financial controls to be introduced, the court heard. One employee who noted discrepancies “was told to keep his mouth shut".

He was chairman and chief executive when it collapsed with £550 million in debts in 1990, amid claims that he had siphoned money abroad through a network of offshore vehicles helped by associates. At the time of the collapse of the conglomerate, Nadir had a £350,000 salary plus the use of five company cars, including a Bentley Turbo and a Ferrari Testarossa and a company aeroplane, said Philip Shears, QC, for the prosecution.

The case led to end of the ministerial career of Michael Mates, the former Minister for Northern Ireland, who spoke out on behalf of Nadir and presented the businessman with a watch engraved on the back with: “Don’t let the buggers get you down” as he fought the charges against him.

The trial heard that the Turkish president had asked Margaret Thatcher and her government to intervene to save the crumbling business empire. President Turgut Ozal wrote to this counterpart to claim that PPI could have been a victim of those seeking to undermine the Turkish Cypriot economy on the divided island.

Nadir maintained direct control over the company directing its affairs in an “autocratic manner” and refusing to tolerate rival sources of power or to accept any restrictions on his actions, the eight-month trial was told.

Today he was found guilty of stealing £1.3 million to secretly buy Polly Peck shares to bolster the company’s value on the Stock Exchange. He was also found guilty of stealing £1m that was spent on antiques including a pair of fireplaces and of the theft of £3.25 million that was spent on family and business interests. He was cleared of stealing £2.5 million to pay a tax bill and to buy aircraft.

Nadir claimed that money was transferred to PPI subsidiaries in Northern Cyprus to balance the books but when administrators travelled there they found only a “black hole” in the accounts.

The prosecution sought to discredit financial documents produced by Nadir by suggesting that the cash deposits by his family would have weighed more than 135 tonnes, or if piled on top of each other would reach a height of some 300 times of that of Nelson’s Column.

Nadir told the trial that he fled in 1993 because he believed he had no chance of a fair trial. His flight came after the Serious Fraud Office had wrongly suggested that the trial judge in 1993 had been the subject of a bribery attempt by Nadir. Giving evidence, Nadir said that he was a “broken man with my health in tatters and my hopes for a fair trial in tatters.”

Suggested Topics
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game