UK

Q&A: Asil Nadir

  • 4 December 2010
  • From the section UK
Asil Nadir and his wife Nur leave their plane at Luton Airport
Image caption The 69-year-old businessman returned to the UK after 17 years in exile

Polly Peck tycoon Asil Nadir returned to the UK in August having evaded trial since 1993.

Q: Who is Asil Nadir?

Asil Nadir is a 69-year-old Turkish Cypriot businessman who built up a hugely successful business empire in the UK in the 1980s.

He started out working in his father's clothing business in London's East End in the 1960s. Twenty years later his company Polly Peck was one of the UK's leading conglomerates, achieving one of the most spectacular share price rises anywhere in the world.

During this time, Mr Nadir was a high-profile figure in the City, a major donor to the Conservative party and in 1990 was listed 36th on the Sunday Times Rich List.

However, Polly Peck collapsed in 1990 with massive debts, following a Serious Fraud Office investigation into Mr Nadir's finances.

He fled the UK for his native Northern Cyprus in 1993 before he was due to face trial and lived there until August.

Profile: Asil Nadir

Q: What is he accused of?

It is alleged that Mr Nadir secretly transferred £34m out of Polly Peck, which ultimately led to the company's collapse.

Following the SFO investigation he was charged with 66 counts of theft and false accounting.

He has always protested his innocence. In a 2003 interview with the BBC he said the accusations against him were "baseless" and alleged that the SFO abused its powers, making a fair trial impossible.

Q: Will he be charged with jumping bail?

During a bail hearing in July this year it emerged that Mr Nadir was not actually on bail when he fled the country in 1993 and so was never technically "on the run".

In 1992 he had pleaded not guilty to the SFO's allegations but 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.

However, the Old Bailey ruled that Mr Nadir had not breached his bail because it had never been granted in the first place.

Q: Why did he return to the UK?

The UK does not recognise Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, so there is no extradition treaty in place.

Northern Cyprus was therefore a safe haven for Mr Nadir for 17 years.

His voluntary return to the UK in August prompted speculation as to his motives.

At the time, on a personal level, Mr Nadir told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he was "hoping that the environment at the moment is correct for this injustice to be put to bed".

Bail conditions negotiated by Mr Nadir's legal team - which meant he would not be placed in custody upon his return - were also thought to be an important factor in his decision.

Mr Nadir says he is hoping to be acquitted of the charges against him.

Others have suggested the return of a Conservative government to power may have had a bearing on Mr Nadir's decision, as may the increasing tendency of the Turkish Cypriot government to extradite suspected criminals.

Q: What are his bail conditions?

Mr Nadir's bail surety of £250,000 was paid before his return to the UK.

On 3 September, he was remanded on bail at the Old Bailey at his first court appearance on fraud and theft charges.

His bail conditions included surrendering his passport, being prohibited from going near any airport and a curfew between midnight and 0600.

He was also fitted with an electronic tag and must report to the police once a week on a specified day.

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

Until then, as long as he sticks to his bail conditions, he can live in London.

Mr Nadir and his 26-year-old wife Nur are renting a £20,000-a-month house in Mayfair in the capital.

Q: How easy will it be to try Mr Nadir after such a long time?

BBC legal affairs analyst Clive Coleman says: "In any complex fraud case there will be a substantial amount of paper-based evidence.

"However, evidence from witnesses can also be critical. Nearly 20 years on, there may be some witnesses who have died and others whose memories have faded.

"The Serious Fraud Office will be busy assessing the quality of the written and oral evidence, and there may end up being a different number of charges from the 66 originally brought."

Q: What has he been doing for the last 17 years?

During his time living in northern Cyprus Mr Nadir was not idle, building up new business interests in the country.

He is reported to have been running the Kibris Media Group, which publishes a daily newspaper in northern Cyprus and owns a TV and radio station there.

During his time away from UK he also married his current wife.

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