Nadir 'used stolen cash to boost shares'

 

Asil Nadir squandered millions of pounds of stolen money on luxury London homes, country estates, racehorses and antiques, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

The Cypriot tycoon also used an intricate web of offshore companies and banks to divert funds from Polly Peck International (PPI) to secretly buy shares in the business empire, thus creating a false impression of demand and boosting its price, the court heard.

By the end of 1989, shortly before the company collapsed, his disclosed share ownership was almost £1m.

Two decades after he fled to Cyprus, Mr Nadir, 70, is appearing in the dock to face 13 counts of theft, all of which he denies.

He is alleged to have stolen £34m from Polly Peck between 1987 and 1990. But prosecutors have suggested the total figure was closer to £150m. Yesterday, on the second day of a trial expected to last four months, Philip Shears QC, prosecuting, offered an insight into Mr Nadir's lavish lifestyle and described how he "cynically and dishonestly used PPI for his own ends".

Mr Nadir blew about £4m of stolen money on a property in Park Lane, as a partial payment for his Mayfair home, and on a country mansion that he planned to develop into a hotel with two golf courses, Mr Shears said.

At one point, £20,000 was transferred into a personal account used to fund the tycoon's interest in horse racing. Two cheques totalling more than £27,000 were also written to a firm owned by the racehorse trainer Jenny Pitman.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds went to firms managing Mr Nadir's Belgravia home and Leicestershire estate and was spent on antiques for the properties. "It is interesting to see where the stolen Polly Peck International money ends up," Mr Shears said as he went through details of each of the counts, using flow charts to explain to the jury the complicated trail of transfers made by Mr Nadir and his trusted executives between banks.

Mr Nadir was in control, the court heard, of more than six offshore investment companies, based in Liberia and the West Indies, that were used to buy Polly Peck shares and options. "A primary purpose of some or all of those dealings was to support the share price of PPI by creating a false or misleading impression as to the market in, or price or value of, PPI shares, and as to the demand for such shares," Mr Shears said.

The trial continues.

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