Asil Nadir 'stole £150m from Polly Peck'
Monday 23 January 2012
Business tycoon Asil Nadir stole just under £150 million from his business empire for himself, his family and friends, the Old Bailey heard today.
The money went through a complex series of transactions including being transferred to a bank he owned in Northern Cyprus, it was alleged.
Nadir was said to have stolen the money from Polly Peck International between 1987 and 1990.
He was due to stand trial in 1993, but in May that year "fled the country back to Northern Cyprus, thus leaving the jurisdiction only to return in August 2010", said Philip Shears QC, prosecuting.
Nadir, 70, of Mayfair, central London, denies 13 sample counts alleging he stole £34 million.
The case before Mr Justice Holroyde is due to last at least four months.
The jury was told that Nadir had abused his position as chairman and chief executive of PPI to steal from the company.
Mr Shears said: "He was a man who wielded very considerable power over its operations and management, and that of its subsidiaries, particularly in Northern Cyprus.
"He abused that power and helped himself to tens of millions of pounds of PPI's money.
"As a director of PPI and a signatory on the account, he was entitled to instruct PPI's bankers to transfer funds.
"However, he would have no authority to transfer or authorise funds from PPI for his own personal benefit or that of his family or associates.
"We caused the transfer from the three PPI accounts which he dishonestly routed away to benefit himself, his family or associates."
Mr Shears added: "We say Mr Nadir's thefts were very extensive and in fact involve a large number of transactions.
"He was engaged in a course of conduct dishonestly extracting funds from PPI for his own purposes."
He said most of the funds ended up "within a fairly complex structure of offshore companies" based in Switzerland, the Bahamas and elsewhere.
Some £26.2 million was used for the covert purchase of shares in PPI by companies owned by Nadir.
It had also been paid into Nadir family trusts of which Nadir was the beneficiary, and to pay off Nadir's debts.
Some £18.6 million had been paid into companies owned by Nadir, and £7.5 million to those "nominally" owned by his mother, Safiye, the court heard.
"He really was the person who was responsible and controlled these interests," said Mr Shears.
Mrs Nadir's bank account in Northern Cyprus had been used to receive stolen money, he added.
It was also, with the help of willing associates, allegedly used to pay off Nadir's debts, pay off his tax bill, buy a Mercedes car for his former wife, pay money to his son, Birol, and used to buy expensive properties.
Attempts to get cash back to the UK when the company got into trouble had been fruitless except for a "very small fraction".
Mr Shears said PPI went into administration in October 1990 with debts of £550 million.
"When the administrators went to Northern Cyprus, they effectively found no cash at all, just a black hole," he said.
"There is a perfectly good explanation for that - it had gone. Asil Nadir had stolen it."
Nadir had transferred considerable sums to Turkish and Northern Cyprus subsidiaries.
By October 1990, PPI's statement of affairs showed it was purportedly owed more than £439 million by Unipac and £275 million by Meyna.
In December 1989, accountants showed £202.6 million - 81% of PPI's total cash balances - in the subsidiaries.
The jury heard that Nadir got a controlling interest in PPI which had been a holding company of a group of firms in the garment trade in the east end of London.
Under his leadership, it grew into an international group with more than 200 subsidiaries specialising in food, electronics, textiles and leisure.
Its headquarters were in Berkeley Square, central London, and it had trading centres from Hong Kong to New York.
Mr Shears 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 in the management or to accept constraints."
This included his insistence, the court heard, on having an unusual single signatory system, which allowed limitless amounts to be transferred on the authorisation of one member of the board.
When questioned about transfers to Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Nadir insisted it made good business sense, said Mr Shears.
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more