Asil Nadir guilty of 10 theft charges

 

Former fugitive tycoon Asil Nadir has been found guilty of 10 counts of stealing £28.6 million.

The amount stolen by the multimillionaire, who fled Britain in 1993 but returned in 2010, is the equivalent of £61,829,627 today, the Old Bailey was told.

Nadir, of Mayfair, London, plundered the millions from his Polly Peck International business empire between 1987 and 1990.

He denied 13 counts of theft of £34 million. Nadir, who was cleared of three counts, will be sentenced tomorrow.

Nadir, 71, spent 17 years on the run in Northern Cyprus after Polly Peck International (PPI) collapsed.

He returned convinced he could clear his name, but after a seven-month trial at the Old Bailey, jurors convicted him.

Polly Peck was a success story of the Thatcher era and was a top-performing company on the Stock Exchange.

It crashed in 1990 with debts of £550 million. Creditors got a fraction of what they were owed and shareholders received nothing.

Nadir was arrested but was secretly flown out of Britain in May 1993 before he could face trial.

Nadir, once 36th on the Sunday Times Rich List, was originally accused of 66 counts, alleging theft of £380 million.

He plundered the conglomerate, spiriting away the money into a "black hole" through a complex series of transactions.

These included transferring cash to a bank he owned in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

The money went on jewels, furniture, luxury properties and making his friends and family rich, jurors were told.

Nadir had been a favourite of prime minister Margaret Thatcher and PPI, once a lowly clothing company in the East End of London, was a modern-day success story.

At one point, it was the Stock Exchange's fastest-growing company, with 200 international subsidiaries dealing in electronics, food, textiles and leisure.

The tycoon was arrested and was due to go on trial in 1993, but was secretly flown out of Britain in a private plane.

He lived the life of a free man in Cyprus, where he was born, but was restricted to exile on the Turkish northern sector of the Mediterranean island.

A second marriage to Nur, a graduate 43 years younger than him, did not quell his desire to return to England.

He flew back in August 2010 after a judge allowed him bail for the two years of court proceedings which followed.

Nadir denied the 13 charges, maintaining his elderly mother Safiye had offset the transfers to Cypriot subsidiaries with Turkish lira.

Philip Shears QC, prosecuting, said this was laughable as it would have taken a mountain of cash 300 times higher than Nelson's Column to match the sterling.

Nadir abused his position as chairman and chief executive of PPI to steal from the company, said Mr Shears.

He said: "Asil Nadir was the dominant force in PPI. He maintained a direct control over its operations, directing its affairs in an autocratic manner, and refusing to tolerate rival sources of power - or constraints upon his freedom of action.

"He abused that power and helped himself to tens of millions of pounds of PPI's money.

"He caused the transfer from the three PPI accounts which he dishonestly routed away to benefit himself, his family or associates."

In December 1989, accounts showed £202.6 million - 81% of PPI's cash balances - in the subsidiaries in Turkey and Northern Cyprus.

Most of the funds ended up "within a fairly complex structure of offshore companies" based in Switzerland, the Bahamas and elsewhere, said Mr Shears.

Some £26.2 million was used to secretly buy shares in PPI by companies owned by Nadir to bolster its share value.

Stolen money was also paid into Nadir family trusts and companies - and to pay off his debts.

His mother's bank account in northern Cyprus was used to receive stolen money, the court heard.

Attempts to get cash back to the UK when the company got into trouble were fruitless except for a "very small fraction".

Mr Shears said: "When the administrators went to northern Cyprus, they effectively found no cash at all, just a black hole.

"There is a perfectly good explanation for that - it had gone. Asil Nadir had stolen it."

PPI's headquarters was in Berkeley Square, central London, and it had trading centres from Hong Kong to New York.

Nadir insisted that millions of pounds could be moved around with only his signature as authorisation.

In September 1990, after Nadir's South Audley Management company was raided by the Serious Fraud Office, his chauffeur removed documents from Switzerland to northern Cyprus, said Mr Shears.

The delay in bringing Nadir to trial meant some witness statements had to be read, as 18 potential witnesses had died.

Another unforeseen consequence was that microscopic bugs were released when the files in 1,400 storage boxes were reopened.

One member of staff was treated in hospital and other staff were ordered to wear protective clothing, and the boxes were given thermal treatment.

Nadir told the court his actions were for the good of the company but it was placed into administration in his absence.

He said he fled because he was "a broken man without hope" but had to return, despite doctor's orders, because he could not live "with injustice".

The trial began in January after a series of preparatory hearings, and should have lasted four months.

But illness among jurors resulted in two being discharged and the trial lasting seven months and costing around an estimated £10 million.

Nadir was granted legal aid for his defence costs and he will be expected to pay some of it back.

Pilot Peter Dimond and accountant Elizabeth Forsyth were jailed after Nadir fled but were later released on appeal.

Nur Nadir said her husband was planning to appeal against the verdicts.

She said: "A guilty man does not come back to face justice of his own accord.

"My husband came back voluntarily. Polly Peck was his life.

"He wants justice for himself and for the tens of thousands of shareholders and employees.

"This unhappy affair is certainly not over yet."

Mrs Nadir, 28, has been by her husband's side throughout the trial and exchanged affectionate looks as he stood in the dock.

The judge said that despite the prosecution case that the amounts stolen were part of a larger theft, he could only pass sentence on counts on which Nadir had been convicted.

Another hearing will be held next month to deal with compensation claims. There will also be claims for "substantial" prosecution costs and repayment of legal aid.

Nadir will have to provide details of his income and assets.

After the court adjourned, Nadir said goodbye to his wife who stood on tip-toe to reach the dock.

He was taken by prison van to Belmarsh high-security prison and is expected to be transferred to another jail after being processed.

How Nadir ended up in the dock

Tycoon Asil Nadir was one of the Thatcher-era success stories until fraud investigators brought his empire crashing around his ears.

* 1980: Asil Nadir acquires a controlling share in Polly Peck, a rag-trade company in London's East End.

* 1989: Under Nadir's chairmanship, the company grows rapidly by acquiring other businesses, eventually having 200 worldwide subsidiaries dealing in food, electronics, textiles and leisure.

* 1990: The company goes into administration after the directors conclude it cannot pay its debts.

* 1993: Asil Nadir is due to face trial in relation to the theft of millions but is secretly flown out of Britain.

He turns up in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus where he was born, protesting that he would not have got a fair trial because of bias at the Serious Fraud Office.

* 2010: An Old Bailey judge agrees that Nadir can have conditional bail, including wearing an electronic tag, if he returns to the UK from northern Cyprus which has no extradition treaty with Britain.

* January 2012: Nadir goes on trial at the Old Bailey.

* August 22: Final verdicts delivered. Nadir found guilty of 10 of the 13 charges.

PA

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
News
Rainbow List
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Life and Style
Gap announced its same-store sales were down 6 per cent in August, and 3 per cent in September
fashionAlexander Fury explains where Gap is going wrong
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
Sport
football
News
politics
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker