Fraud squad questions Nadir associate: Company chairwoman returns from Cyprus after four years. Simon Midgeley reports

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The Independent Online
ONE OF the closest business associates of the fugitive businessman Asil Nadir, who is accused of theft and false accounting to the tune of pounds 30m, presented herself for questioning to Serious Fraud Office officers at Holborn police station in central London yesterday morning accompanied by two lawyers.

Elizabeth Forsyth, 56, formerly the chairwoman of South Audley Management (SAM), the company that controlled Nadir's personal taxes and property, is anxious to clear herself of any suggestion of wrongdoing in the pounds 1.3bn collapse in 1990 of Polly Peck, a conglomerate with interests in fruit packing, packaging and electronics.

She was interviewed for nearly six hours yesterday afternoon. The interview will resume this morning and is expected to take much of the day.

Peter Krivinskas, her solicitor, said last night: 'We are answering every question as honestly and in as much detail as we can. It is very tiring, but Mrs Forsyth is doing her best.'

Two and a half years ago she fled to live in Northern Cyprus fearing that she might be implicated in the scandal. She and four other associates of Nadir involved in the collapse have been living near Kyrenia.

At 8.30am yesterday morning she flew into London's City Airport where she was met by Mr Krivinskas and her daughter, Fiona Addington, a bank clerk. She was also accompanied by John Mullin, a Guardian reporter.

Mrs Forsyth, who is anxious to clear her name, said: 'Four years is long enough . . . There is an awful lot the public does not know about in this whole case. Hopefully we can clear up a lot of matters. I think that they (the SFO) are very confused about the whole issue. I think there has been a lot of misunderstanding on both sides. I think co-operation is the name of the game. The timing is right to come back.'

Mrs Forsyth said that it was her decision to return to Britain not Nadir's. She did not know what his plans were. He was just 'trying to get his business together. He is feeling a lot better because he did have a pretty bad time of it.'

Her return, she hoped, would bring an end to this 'ghastly business' one way or the other. Mrs Addington, her daughter, said the family had been very worried about her. 'I know she's innocent. I think she will be able to sort it all out. Keep fingers crossed.'

Mrs Forsyth has not been charged with anything and no warrant exists for her arrest. She and Nadir claim that it was the highly publicised raid on the offices of SAM four years ago today - without, they say, any evidence - that precipitated the end of Polly Peck and that there has been a cover-up going on ever since.

Mr Krivinskas, who also represents Nadir, has said it would be 'embarrassing' for the SFO if Mrs Forsyth were not charged. Mr Nadir is expected to claim a failure to charge her amounts to proof that the SFO has a weak case.

A SFO spokeswoman declined to comment on Mrs Forsyth's return, saying it was SFO policy not to comment until someone was charged with an offence.

(Photograph omitted)

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