Fugitive Asil Nadir to return to the UK to stand trial

Asil Nadir

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Lawyers for fugitive tycoon Asil Nadir have confirmed he will return to the UK to stand trial after he was granted bail by an Old Bailey judge.

Mr Nadir, 69, fled to northern Cyprus in 1993 to avoid a trial centred on the collapse of his Polly Peck business empire.

Last month he said he would return to the UK if he got bail rather than face being remanded in custody.

Mr Nadir, who faces 66 counts of theft, has vowed to clear his name.

A statement from his solicitors said: "Mr Asil Nadir is extremely satisfied with the outcome of today's hearing, and looks forward to attending the Old Bailey on 3 September... and beginning the process of clearing his name and proving his innocence."

Start Quote

We are not bargaining with the court - we have come to try to make sure that he ends up in the dock sooner rather than later”

End Quote William Clegg QC, for Asil Nadir

Mr Nadir, a Turkish Cypriot, has always denied the charges but has lived in northern Cyprus for the past 17 years because the territory has no extradition treaty with the UK.

Lawyers for the businessman told the Old Bailey on Friday that Mr Nadir wanted to return to the UK and was prepared to stand trial as originally expected to 17 years ago.

The Serious Fraud Office did not oppose bail after Mr Nadir's legal team agreed to a series of bail conditions.

Mr Nadir must pay a £250,000 surety and give the SFO 72 hours notice of when he will be returning to the UK.

Once he has arrived, he will be required to surrender his passport, agree to wear an electronic tag and live at a specific address in London.

The trial is not expected to take place until 2012 because of the complexity of the allegations involved.

William Clegg QC, for Mr Nadir, told the Old Bailey: "He is a defendant who has indicated a settled and determined intention to return to this country and to stand his trial. There would be no other purpose in me appearing if he did not intend to do so.

"We are not bargaining with the court," he continued. "We have come to court to try to make sure that he ends up in the dock sooner rather than later."

Bail mix-up

But in a legal twist, it emerged during the hearing that Mr Nadir was never, legally speaking, on the run.

In 1992 he had pleaded not guilty to the SFO's allegations - but he was allowed to leave the court without a judge deciding whether he should be bailed or remanded.

When Mr Nadir fled in 1993, a judge issued an arrest warrant for breach of bail.

But the Old Bailey has now ruled that Mr Nadir had not breached his bail - because he had never been given it in the first place.

Mr Clegg said: "At this moment in time, Mr Nadir is not in breach of bail or unlawfully at large. He is in legal limbo as the result of slipping through the web of legislation governing the granting and surrendering of bail. He is an extremely lucky man to find himself in this position."

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