Asil Nadir used money to boost share price, court hears

Asil Nadir Tycoon Asil Nadir denies stealing millions of pounds from his Polly Peck empire

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Businessman Asil Nadir used millions of pounds he stole from his Polly Peck empire to bolster its share price, the Old Bailey has heard.

He used a series of companies administered in Switzerland to secretly buy thousands of shares in Polly Peck International (PPI), it is alleged.

This increased the conglomerate's Stock Exchange rating and his wealth, said prosecutor Philip Shears QC.

Mr Nadir, who is accused of stealing nearly £150m, denies all the charges.

He is facing 13 sample counts that he stole more than £34m from PPI between 1987 and 1990.

The prosecution has accused the tycoon of transferring millions of pounds through a complex series of companies and trusts in an attempt to hide his actions.

Mr Shears told the jury: "The primary purpose of some or all of those dealings was to support the share price of PPI by creating a false or misleading impression as to... the demand for such shares.

"Each penny on the share price of PPI increased the value of Asil Nadir's disclosed shareholding, just under a million pounds, so it was important to support the share price or increase it."

Property deals

Mr Shears said that in September 1990, after Nadir's South Audley Management company was raided by the Serious Fraud Office, his chauffeur took documents about the companies from Switzerland to northern Cyprus.

The jury has heard that PPI was put into administration in October 1990 with debts of £550m.

It is alleged Mr Nadir, 70, from Mayfair, central London, siphoned off nearly £150m from the company through northern Cyprus in the three years before.

When administrators went there hoping to recover funds, they found nothing but a "black hole", jurors heard.

Mr Shears said Mr Nadir had been due to stand trial in 1993, but fled to northern Cyprus, only to return in August 2010.

He told the jury that in addition to the money being used for the benefit of Mr Nadir, his family and friends, it had gone to bolster his various business interests.

He said just over £4m had been put towards exclusive properties, and £120,000 had gone towards the £1.2m purchase price of a house in Aldford Street, Mayfair, where Mr Nadir had lived.

Mr Shears added that it had also been used to pay £2m of the £7m purchase price of Burley on the Hill in Rutland - a mansion and estate which Mr Nadir had intended to develop into a hotel, conference centre and two golf courses.

He is also said to have paid a £1.9m deposit on Fountain House - an office block in Park Lane, central London. The purchase was never completed.

Mr Shears said £14,871 might have ended up being paid to racehorse trainer Jenny Pitman "for the purpose of dealing with his (Mr Nadir's) racehorse interests".

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.

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