Turkish-Cypriot tycoon Asil Nadir convicted of theft

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2012, 4:30am


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Turkish-Cypriot tycoon Asil Nadir, once one of Britain's most notorious fugitives, was convicted of stealing £5.5 million (HK$67 million) by a London court yesterday, with tens of millions more still to be considered.

The 71-year-old businessman, whose 28-year-old wife Nur sat at the side of the dock in the Old Bailey, looked stunned by the guilty verdicts on three counts of theft concerning a fraction of the total £150 million he was alleged to have embezzled.

The jury, after the foreman had to return to make clear the verdict, was still considering a further nine counts in relation to the collapse of his Polly Peck business empire in 1990, although Nadir - who pleaded not guilty to all charges - was cleared of one count.

Nadir was one of the highest-profile businessmen in Britain in the 1980s and early 1990s after building up Polly Peck from a small textile firm into a conglomerate with interests ranging from fruit to electronics.

Most of its business was based in Turkey and the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Ankara.

But the flamboyant Nadir was arrested after Polly Peck crashed into administration with debts of £550 million and charged with 13 counts of theft.

He was due to stand trial, but fled in 1993 to Northern Cyprus, which does not have an extradition treaty with Britain.

He returned to Britain in 2010 in a dramatic bid to clear his name after 17 years as a fugitive.

The three charges on which he was found guilty yesterday account for about £5.5 million.

Investigators found a "black hole" after going to Northern Cyprus where the money had been transferred, the court heard.

Giving evidence in June, Nadir said he had fled Britain because he feared he would not receive a fair trial. "I was a totally broken man. My health was in tatters, my hope of a fair trial was in tatters. I had zero hope of receiving a fair trial," he said.

The prosecution said money taken from Polly Peck in London was passed through the Channel Islands, Northern Cyprus and Switzerland. Prosecutors say it was used to finance projects in which his family members were involved. Nadir owns newspapers in Northern Cyprus.