I'm penniless, Asil Nadir tells court


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The Independent Online

Former fugitive business tycoon Asil Nadir, convicted of stealing nearly £29 million, today claimed to be penniless.

Nadir, 71, was jailed for 10 years a month ago after being found guilty of 10 charges of theft amounting to £28.8 million from his Polly Peck business empire in the late 1980s.

He returned to the Old Bailey today to face a compensation hearing but said he had no assets.

The prosecution called his claims a "sham" and said claims that he was reliant on the generosity of friends and family "an affront to common sense".

Trial judge Mr Justice Holroyde will decide if there are any assets to provide compensation to the administrators of Polly Peck International.

He will also try to recover the costs of the prosecution and legal aid for the trial.

The top performing Stock Exchange company collapsed in 1990 owing £550 million.

The amount he stole is the equivalent of £61.6 million today. The prosecution said it was part of £150 million taken from the company.

Nadir, who was said to have stolen out of pure greed, returned to the UK two years ago after spending 17 years on the run in Northern Cyprus.

Nadir was ordered to provide details of his finances and assets under a Financial Circumstances Order before the hearing.

But the court heard, he had failed to make "full and frank disclosure".

Nadir's second wife, Nur, 28, who had been by his side throughout the trial, was not in court today. She is believed to have returned to Cyprus.

Philip Shears QC, prosecuting, said: "This defendant has failed to provide full and frank disclosure of his financial resources.

"His principle ascertain is that he has no personal assets whatever."

Nadir had said that after his bankruptcy in 1992, he has been "wholly reliant on the generosity of family and associates".

They had paid for his and his wife's lifestyle, personal staff and for litigation.

Mr Shears said: "We submit this is an affront to commonsense."

Nadir, who was driven to court during the trial in a chauffeured limousine, lived in a £23,000-a-month Mayfair house, which he said his family paid for.

But Mr Shears said Nadir did not seem to understand the term "family" when having to explain his finances. Nadir's and his family's wealth were essentially held in common.

There had also been no explanation about the whereabouts of a painting and jewellery which was bought in 1989 using PPI money.

The judge summed up the prosecution case by saying Nadir's claims that property was owned by someone else, particularly his mother, "is simply a sham".

It was his property placed in the name of someone else.

Family wealth was wealth to which Nadir contributed, including £14 million from an early sale of PPI shares.

The court heard that the amount of compensation being sought was around £60 million to take account of interest.

Philip Hackett QC, for Nadir, said the Serious Fraud Office had been unable to find any assets in his name.

"There is not a shred of evidence that he has been involved in any business," added Mr Hackett.

Nadir's newspaper shareholding had been put in trust to his mother and his only income had been a £6,000-a-month consultancy fee.

His rent in Mayfair, estimated to have amounted to £500,000, and living expenses in London had been provided by Turkish airline owner Hamit Cankut Bagana.

Mr Hackett said: "Mr Bagana urged him to return to the UK to clear his name.

"Mr Nadir said he could not afford to do so and Mr Bagana underlined his expenses."

Mr Justice Holroyde said Nadir was "highly intelligent and a highly successful businessman".

He said he was "not immediately convinced" by his claims to have been living off the generosity of others.

He added: "This shows the concrete impossibility of getting information out of Northern Cyprus unless Mr Nadir chooses to release it."