In the Media

Asil Nadir jailed for ten years for 'theft on a grand scale'

PUBLISHED August 23, 2012

The 71-year-old was told he was guilty of "greed" and "theft on a grand scale" as he was sentenced at the Old Bailey.

His company collapsed in 1990 owing £550 million and Nadir was due to face trial in 1993 but he fled to his native Cyprus where he remained for 17 years.

He returned to Britain in 2010 confident he would be cleared but a jury this week found him guilty of stealing £28.6 million, the equivalent of £61.8 million today.

Sentencing him to ten years in prison, the Judge Mr Justice Holroyde told Nadir: "You were a wealthy man, you stole out of greed."

He said Nadir had blamed everyone else for the collapse of Polly Peck, but added that his thefts had been a major contributing factor.

Nadir, who suffers from high blood pressure and coronary disease is expected to serve half his sentence before being eligible for release.

Lawyers for the businessman said they intended to appeal against the convictions.

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Mr Justice Holroyd praised Nadir as a man of "considerable charm" adding that it was sad to see his talents had been wasted.

But he added the businessman had shown no remorse througout the trial.

Polly Peck was one of the most successful companies of its time and following its collapse Nadir was charged with theft prompting his return to his native Northern Cyprus, a territory with no extradition treaty with Britain.

His friend Michael Mates, a minister in the Major government, had to resign after it was discovered that he gave Nadir a watch inscribed "Don't let the buggers get you down".

Nadir returned voluntarily in August 2010 vowing to clear his name. He blamed the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for orchestrating his downfall and said he fled because he was a broken man.

Nadir is being held in Belmarsh high security jail but is expected to be transferred, possibly to an open prison, in the coming days.

Nadir spirited abroad large amounts of cash which then disappeared into "a black hole" and have never been recovered.

The prosecution told the court the thefts were part of £150 million siphoned off from Polly Peck but the judge, Mr Justice Holroyde, said he could only sentence Nadir for the counts for which he had been found guilty.

Clare Whitaker, from the SFO, said a claim would be made for compensation to be awarded to the administrators of Polly Peck International.

A hearing will be held on September 27 to decide on Nadir paying compensation and interest to the administrators of PPI.

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

Nadir was ordered to provide details of his finances and assets under a Financial Circumstances Order before the hearing.

Philip Hackett QC, mitigating for Nadir, said Nadir returned to the UK from Northern Cyprus despite having heart disease.

Mr Hackett said: "He always wanted to return. He eventually did return at the age of 70 and in poor health."

He asked the judge to give Nadir credit for the 720 days he had been electronically tagged.

Mr Hackett said Nadir was "a dynamic leader of outstanding ability who created this company virtually out of nothing".

Nadir, once 36th on the Sunday Times Rich List, had been living a life of luxury in his native Northern Cyprus and receiving money from his media group. He returned to the UK as he had to prove a "burning injustice" against him, he said.

Polly Peck, which had headquarters in Berkeley Square, central London, and trading centres from Hong Kong to New York, had 200 international subsidiaries dealing in electronics, food, textiles and leisure.

Stolen millions were used to secretly buy shares in Polly Peck by companies owned by Nadir to bolster its share value.

In September 1990, after Nadir's South Audley Management company was raided by the SFO, the company's shares went into free-fall.