Nadir 'needed 135 tonnes of cash', a court hears
- 27 January 2012
- From the section UK
Businessman Asil Nadir would have needed banknotes 300 times the height of Nelson's Column to balance the books of his empire, the Old Bailey hears.
He has said when pounds were taken out in London, equivalent amounts in Turkish lire were placed in a subsidiary firm in northern Cyprus.
Philip Shears, QC, prosecuting, said the claims were "not credible".
Mr Nadir, who is accused of stealing nearly £150m from his Polly Peck empire, denies all the charges.
The 70-year-old, who lives in Mayfair, central London, 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 said one deposit slip in June 1988 suggested that 148.8m Turkish lire (TL) were deposited in 100TL banknotes to balance a £6m transfer from PPI. Mr Nadir says this was done by his mother, Safiye Nadir.
"Such a huge quantity of banknotes is likely to have weighed 135,185kg - over 135 tonnes," said Mr Shears.
"What is also open to question is how the defendant's mother was physically able to transport and deposit such vast quantities of banknotes on a regular basis.
"Without being flippant, we are now in the realms of fork-lift trucks and vans stuffed full of banknotes. Moreover, from where did she or others get all this money?"
The jury has heard that PPI was put into administration with debts of £550m in October 1990.
The administrators were unable to track down the large amounts of money in northern Cyprus. The prosecution said documents about the deposits said to have been made by his mother were fake.
Accountants who went to northern Cyprus were unable to speak to Mrs Nadir and had difficulty with the tycoon's employees.
"Administrators were met with obstruction, and inaccurate and inconsistent accounts and explanations," said Mr Shears.
The court heard that Kemal Birgen, a former manager at Mr Nadir's IBK bank who has since died, said the bank did not have space for such large deposits.
Mr Shears said the cash deposit claim "simply beggars belief".
"Mr Birgen stated it did not happen - with regard to Asil Nadir's mother, she never had up to £70m in her deposit account, and had no knowledge of 300bn lira passing through the accounts," he said.
Mr Birgen, who was manager from 1982 to April 1991, was interviewed by Christopher Howell for the administrators in July 1991.
Mr Shears said: "He later told Mr Howell that he had been threatened, had had dead chickens delivered, his house had been petrol bombed, and an abusive phone call was received while Mr Howell was present."
Mr Nadir was arrested and was due to stand trial in 1993 but left Britain for northern Cyprus, only to return in August 2010.
Mr Shears said his "fleeing the country before his trial in order to avoid prosecution and trial, remaining out of the jurisdiction for some 17 years" was evidence of his dishonesty.
The trial continues.