Former fugitive tycoon Asil Nadir was jailed for 10 years today after a judge said he stole millions out of “pure greed”.
Nadir had been a wealthy man and had an extravagant lifestyle when he stole £28.8 million from his company Polly Peck International.
Old Bailey judge Mr Justice Holroyde told Nadir: "You are a man of outstanding business skills.
"In the 1980s you achieved remarkable success. You are entitled to take great pride in that achievement.
"The company's success was in many ways your success. But the company's money was not your money.
"You knew that. You nonetheless helped yourself to it. You committed theft on a grand scale.
"It seems to me that you already had an extravagant lifestyle as a result of your success in business.
"It follows that you were a wealthy man who stole out of pure greed."
Nadir, 71, was convicted this week of 10 counts of theft from PPI between 1987 and 1990.
The Stock Exchange high performer collapsed with debts of £550 million.
Nadir fled Britain for his native Northern Cyprus in May 1993 but returned voluntarily in August 2010 to face trial.
The amount he stole is the equivalent of £61.6 million today. The prosecution had alleged it was part of £150 million taken from the company.
The judge said Nadir's behaviour had contributed to PPI crashing. Investors who lost money included large institutions, small investors and pension funds.
Mr Justice Holroyde told Nadir: "You remained absent from this country for 17 years, and so delayed for nearly two decades the day of reckoning which has finally arrived.
"You are a man of considerable charm and unfailing courtesy, and it is sad to see the waste of your undoubted talents.
"But I have no hesitation in concluding that you have shown not the slightest remorse for your crime.
"Your sole concern throughout has been to avoid any acceptance of your own responsibility."
After the sentencing in the packed courtroom, Nadir said "thank you" to the judge. He replied: "Thank you, Mr Nadir."
Before leaving the dock, Nadir turned to his devoted wife Nur, 28, and said goodbye.
Nadir will serve half his sentence, possibly in an open prison, before being released on parole.
The judge said he had reduced the term he would have given by two years to take into account his voluntary return, his previous good character and that he had been electronically tagged for two years.
Outside court, Mrs Nadir continued to maintain her husband's innocence.
She said: "My husband is innocent. And having faith in the British justice system, we will continue with our efforts to rectify the wrongs.
"His business genius created a global company, which brought jobs and prosperity to tens of thousands of people around the world.
"He had much more to lose by the downfall of his company than can be justified by those who carry the belief that his own motives may have supported his alleged actions.
"The image that has been portrayed of him as being one who solely lived off of the benefits of Polly Peck is a great prejudice to the truth.
"He is a man of great character, integrity and honour."
A hearing will be held on September 27 to decide whether Nadir should be ordered to pay compensation and interest to the administrators of PPI.
The judge will also decide on ordering him to pay prosecution costs of £2.5 million, and repaying his legal aid costs.
Nadir was ordered to provide details of his finances and assets under a Financial Circumstances Order before the hearing.
It is believed Nadir, who was driven to court during the trial in a chauffeured car and lived in a £23,000-a-month Mayfair house, will say he was funded by family money.
Nadir spirited abroad large amounts of cash which then disappeared into "a black hole" and have never been recovered.
He was once 36th on the Sunday Times Rich List and built up Polly Peck from an east London textile company.
Polly Peck, which had headquarters in Berkeley Square, central London, and trading centres from Hong Kong to New York, had 200 international subsidiaries dealing in electronics, food, textiles and leisure.
Nadir was one of Margaret Thatcher's greatest supporters and donated £440,000 to the Tory Party.
Stolen millions were used to secretly buy shares in Polly Peck by companies owned by Nadir to bolster its share value.
In September 1990, after Nadir's South Audley Management company was raided by the Serious Fraud Office, the company's shares went into freefall.
Later, Nadir said through his solicitors that he was "most disappointed" by the verdicts.
"He maintains that he is totally innocent of all charges and will be lodging an appeal," said a statement.