Nadir claims he was victim of conspiracy

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The Independent Online
ASIL NADIR yesterday claimed police, the Serious Fraud Office, the administrators of his collapsed Polly Peck conglomerate, and his trustees in bankruptcy joined in a giant conspiracy against him.

Speaking from northern Cyprus, the fugitive businessman insisted the SFO was so desperate to incriminate him that it asserted that he was involved in an attempt to bribe his trial judge.

In a detailed statement he claimed that during the proceedings the prosecution informed the judge that there was an investigation into an allegation of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. He said that the investigation concerned 'not only the judge but my QC, Anthony Scrivener, former chairman of the Bar, the assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and, of course, myself.'

Scotland Yard is investigating the allegations, which centre on a fund of around pounds 3.5m held in a Swiss bank, but has found no evidence that Justice Tucker, the trial judge, or anyone else, was even approached.

Nadir, who faces criminal and civil charges relating to the pounds 1.3bn collapse of his business empire, claimed that the judge asked if there was any evidence. 'The reply was that he couldn't say because the matter was still operational.' Nadir added: 'It was pure farce.'

Nadir, who said he was forced to take the 'drastic' decision to flee because he became convinced that he would never receive a fair trial, claims his confidential mail to his lawyers was intercepted illegally.

In addition, he said there was an illegal collaboration between the authorities prosecuting the criminal case against him and those dealing with the civil proceedings. In particular, Nadir said, the SFO 'acted in consert (sic) with the administrators and the trustees in bankruptcy'. The administrators 'sold off the assets of the best performing company in the world of the 1980s in what must have been the sale of the century.'

On 6 April, Robson Rhodes, his trustees in bankruptcy, accompanied by the Metropolitan Police, had even removed papers relating to his defence, including privileged documents, from his home and office. 'This action demonstrated to me that there was absolutely no possibility of getting a fair trial . . .'

Neil Cooper, of Robson Rhodes, Nadir's trustee in bankruptcy, described the allegations as 'offensive and insulting'. He defended his decision to raid Nadir's offices, with a police officer in attendance, saying Nadir had failed to hand over documents relating to his business affairs which he was required to do under the terms of his bankruptcy.

'His lawyers at all times had copies of these documents,' he said. The police officer who had attended was not representing the SFO and had taken no information away.

Christopher Morris, a partner in Touche Ross, one of the joint administrators, said: 'I do not even want to dignify Asil Nadir's statement with a comment.'

Nadir gave a long account of the process of his investigation and arrest following the collapse of Polly Peck. He returned voluntarily to London, he insisted, despite warnings he would be arrested. 'I had great faith in British justice and wanted the whole ghastly business to be cleared up. After all, I had nothing to hide,' he said.

Nadir ended his statement with a promise to 'reveal all' in due course. 'There is much more to the whole of this persecution than meets the eye.'

Ramadan Guney, the north London businessman who stands to forfeit up to pounds 1m as a result of Nadir's disappearance, made attempts to withdraw as a bail surety prior to his flight, the Serious Fraud Office said.

In its first detailed account of the events surrounding Nadir's disappearance, the SFO said yesterday that a faxed letter was received at the Central Criminal Court four days before Nadir fled. The letter, from Mr Guney's solicitors, said they had instructions to withdraw his surety immediately. However, it arrived 'too late' in the day for the matter to be listed.

The next day a further letter asked for the matter to be listed, but while it was being dealt with another letter was faxed asking the court to hold matters.

A further letter was also received that day from Nadir's solicitors, enclosing a copy of the letter from Mr Guney's solicitors confirming no further action was to be taken, blaming 'a misunderstanding' for what had happened.

News that Mr Guney was making efforts to minimise his liability will add to criticism that the authorities were insufficiently alert to the risk.

But the statement sheds no further light on how Nadir escaped. The SFO said that it was still unsure of how he left the country but had 'a number of promising leads'.

The Lord Chancellor's Department confirmed that court time was allotted last Friday to hear Mr Guney's application but his solicitors 'asked we put it on hold'.

Mr Guney was said last night to be unwell and unavailable for comment.