Tycoon Nadir told to pay back £5m or serve six more years in jail
Judge orders disgraced Nadir to return £5m after rejecting claims that he is penniless
The Guardian in London
A British judge ordered jailed tycoon Asil Nadir to pay back £5 million (HK$62.3 million) of the £29 million he stole from his Polly Peck business empire or serve an extra six years in prison. The judge rejected his claim that during his 17 years in exile in northern Cyprus he was living on handouts from his mother.
Justice Holroyde ruled that the disgraced tycoon, Britain's most famous fugitive from justice until he was jailed for 10 years this year, was lying when he claimed to be penniless.
"I simply cannot accept that such a proud and talented man, living in a community which admired him greatly, has for nearly two decades relied on subventions from his mother, his girlfriend [and a close friend],"Holroyde said in this judgment.
Holroyde pointed out that, during the theft trial, Nadir had "arrived at court every day in a chauffeur-driven Jaguar, and his wife in a £40,000 Range Rover".
London's Old Bailey heard that Nadir, 71, and his 28-year-old wife Nur were living in a town house that cost £1 million a year to rent. The judge rejected claims that a newspaper business and the lavish Loch Manor Cypriot mansion were owned by Nadir's mother, Safiye.
Two of Nadir's key witnesses were caught out during the three-day hearing. The judge said the claim by Nadir's sister, Bilge Nevzat, that her brother had lived as a recluse while he was in exile in Cyprus was "impossible to reconcile" with a book she wrote describing her brother as a wonderfully dedicated businessman.
Nadir's claim not to have a bank account was also exposed as a lie when a friend, Turkish airline tycoon Hamit Bagana, provided the court with financial records. Bagana had claimed he gave Nadir £4 million to help pay his legal fees and support his lavish lifestyle during the trial.
"The inescapable inference is that the bank account revealed to the court by Mr Bagana is but one of several,"Holroyde said. He added that Nadir's wife had three bank accounts in Cyprus in 2010, none of them in local currency.
Prosecutors said the £29 million thefts were specimen representations of total thefts of more than £146 million.
The judge ordered Nadir to pay the £5 million compensation to the administrators of Polly Peck International within two years, but he was not ordered to pay any of the costs of the seven-month theft trial, which is estimated to have cost the taxpayer about £23 million.
Nadir had been a hero among City investors in the 1980s, building up a £1.7 billion conglomerate with interests in food, electronics, textiles and leisure.