I gave Asil Nadir £4m for nothing more than his friendship, Turkish businessman tells Old Bailey

 

A Turkish businessman gave disgraced tycoon Asil Nadir more than £4m to fund a lavish lifestyle in London’s Mayfair after he returned to Britain to face trial for plundering his own company, the Old Bailey heard today.

Multi-millionaire Hamit Cankut Bagana claimed that he never expected the money to be returned and that he handed over the money in return for nothing more “than his friendship”.

Nadir, who was jailed for ten years in August for wholescale theft from his company, was back in court today as he faced attempts to claw back the millions he stole from his multinational empire which led to one of Britain’s biggest corporate failures. The 71-year-old’s company, Polly Peck international, collapsed with £550m in debts and the tycoon fled to Northern Cyprus where he lived for 17 years as a fugitive from justice.

He returned on a private jet in 2010 supplied by Mr Bagana and spent a fortune on legal fees and accommodation before he was jailed for stealing £29 million in August.

Nadir now claims he is penniless and cannot pay back the £60 million sought by the prosecution to include interest. He claims he has not held a job since 1993 other than a short-term consultancy to a Cypriot newspaper and does not have a bank account or credit card, the court heard. The prosecution claims it is a sham and an affront to common sense.

Mr Bagana, a tourism and airline tycoon, said his relationship with Mr Nadir, 71, went back nearly 20 years and was “a hero of my generation” for his business achievements.

He counselled Nadir against returning to Britain to try to clear his name but promised to give him “moral support” if he decided to do so, backed up by millions of pounds from his personal fortune.

Nadir told him it would be a long and expensive process, asked for his support and mentioned obliquely the cost of living in London. Mr Bagana told the court. “I answered him by saying you must live by the standards that you have in the past when you used to live in London and I will provide the finances to make sure you are able to do that.”

Asked if he wanted the money paid back, Mr Bagana said: “Inshallah (God willing)” but said that he did not expect that to happen. Mr Bagana said he expected to spend £1m to £2m – but the final bill came to more than £4.3 million, the court heard. Nadir spent £500,000 on the costs of renting a Mayfair house and £34,000 on a new Range Rover while he was in London.

Asked by Philip Shears QC, prosecuting, if he knew Nadir spent the money on a new car, he said: “I didn’t know that. The money I sent was £4 million; I’m sure you can buy all sorts of cars with that type of money.”

He said he met Nadir in Cyprus where he claimed that Nadir had servants and a chauffeur at his walled villa which he was “tastefully furnished” but economically. He wasn’t “living an elaborate life as such, but I must say he wasn’t living in poverty either.”

Mr Bagana denied he’d paid the money because he was involved with Nadir in a project to develop a second airport in Northern Cyprus. “Mr Nadir is a hero of my generation. In Turkey and Northern Cyprus the initiatives he started are responsible for the current economic successes of today.”

The hearing was adjourned until Friday

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen