Last updated: 23 August, 2012

Turkish-Cypriot tycoon Nadir jailed for 10 years in the UK

Turkish-Cypriot tycoon Asil Nadir, once one of Britain’s most notorious fugitives, was on Thursday jailed for ten years for stealing millions of pounds from his international business empire.

The flamboyant 71-year-old was convicted in London this week on ten charges of theft from his now-defunct conglomerate, Polly Peck International, between 1987 and 1990.

Nadir’s thefts totalled £28.8 million, the equivalent of more than £61.6 million ($97.8 million, 77.9 million euros) in today’s terms.

“You were a wealthy man who stole out of pure greed,” Judge Tim Holroyde told Nadir at London’s Old Bailey court.

Holroyde said Nadir would serve only half of his prison sentence before being eligible for release on licence.

Nadir said in a statement issued through his lawyers that he was “most disappointed” by the verdicts.

“He maintains that he is totally innocent of all charges and will be lodging an appeal,” the statement said.

Nadir’s 28-year-old wife Nur said outside the court: “My husband is innocent and, having faith in the British justice system, we will continue with our efforts to rectify the wrongs.

“His business genius created a global company, which brought jobs and prosperity to tens of thousands of people around the world.

“The image that has been portrayed of him as being one who solely lived off of the benefits of Polly Peck is a great prejudice to the truth.”

Nadir was arrested when Polly Peck collapsed in 1990 with debts of £550 million, after an investigation by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office.

He was one of the most prominent businessmen in Britain in the 1980s and early 1990s, after building up Polly Peck from a small textile firm into a sprawling company with interests ranging from fruit to electronics.

He fled in May 1993 to the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is recognised only by Turkey and does not have an extradition treaty with Britain.

Most of Polly Peck’s business was based in Turkey and the TNRC.

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

He lived in a £23,000-a-month house in the exclusive Mayfair district of west London during the trial, and was driven to court each day by a chauffeur.

Nadir was named Britain’s 36th wealthiest man by the Sunday Times Rich List in 1990 and donated large sums to Britain’s Conservative Party via his company.

The party on Wednesday rejected calls to repay the donations, insisting there was no evidence the money was stolen and that it had not come from Nadir but from his company.

Nadir’s defence lawyer Philip Hackett told the court he had returned despite having heart disease and asked the judge to give Nadir credit for the 720 days he had been electronically tagged.

The judge said he had reduced the term he would have given Nadir by two years to take into account his voluntary return, his previous good character and the fact that he had worn the electronic tag.

A hearing will be held on September 27 to decide on the amount of compensation and interest Nadir will be ordered to pay to Polly Peck’s administrators.

The judge will also have to decide on ordering him to pay prosecution costs of £2.5 million, and repaying his legal aid costs.