Polly Peck tycoon Asil Nadir 'felt burning injustice'

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

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Former Polly Peck tycoon Asil Nadir returned to the UK due to "a burning sense of injustice", a court has heard.

Philip Hackett QC, defending, told the Old Bailey that Mr Nadir could have lived out his life in northern Cyprus but chose to return to give evidence.

Prosecutors say Mr Nadir funnelled cash away from his company through a complex series of international transactions.

Mr Nadir denies 13 counts of theft of £34m from Polly Peck International between 1987 and 1990.

'Risks involved'

Mr Hackett told the court that Mr Nadir had reacted as a human being in the witness box. He reminded the jury that Mr Nadir did not have to give evidence but he had chosen to do so, just as he had chosen to return to face trial.

Asking what persuaded Mr Nadir to return to the UK in 2010, Mr Hackett said it was due to "a burning sense of injustice at how the case came about, how he was prosecuted without being investigated, and the destruction wrought on the company that was his life's work".

Mr Nadir was prepared to come back, with all the risks that involved, he added.

Chronology

  • 1980 - Asil Nadir buys Polly Peck, at the time a small textile firm
  • 1989 - Polly Peck International, by now worth £2bn, acquires giant fruit company Del Monte
  • 24 Oct 1990 - PPI goes into administration
  • Dec 1990 - Mr Nadir is charged with embezzling money
  • May 1993 - He flees to northern Cyprus
  • Aug 2010 - Mr Nadir returns to the UK

Earlier Mr Hackett told the Old Bailey that the prosecution in the trial had had a series of disasters that they had tried to ignore.

He said the problem with the prosecution case was that they had not investigated it properly by travelling to northern Cyprus and gathering evidence.

Instead the prosecution had tried to put the burden of proof on the defence by claiming the investigation had been obstructed by Mr Nadir, Mr Hackett said.

It was a bit "cheeky" of the prosecution to blame defence obstruction when they had not called the one witness who could tell the jury about it - the former case controller for the Serious Fraud Office, Lorna Harris, he said.

No one had explained to the jury any reason why she could not have come and explained how her investigation for the SFO was obstructed by the defence.

"What do you make of that?" asked Mr Hackett.

"The prosecution want you to throw in the scales of conviction the proposition that Mr Nadir obstructed them from 1990 to 1993, but they have not called the witnesses."

Cash weight

Mr Hackett also attacked the prosecution's claim that it would have been impossible for Mr Nadir to make balancing payments for the money he took out of Polly Peck International (PPI) by making matching cash deposits in northern Cyprus.

He dismissed the credibility of a series of prosecution witnesses who had dealt with the counting, height and weight of the disputed cash deposits.

Mr Hackett said that one prosecution witness had said it would have needed a forklift truck to deliver the amount of cash required for such deposits.

Yet his female junior barrister had been able to wheel around a suitcase in court containing 2bn Turkish lira.

Mr Nadir is accused of stealing up to £150m from PPI to benefit himself, his family and other associates. The trial is focused on sample charges relating to just over a quarter of the money that allegedly disappeared.

Mr Nadir denies the charges and says legitimate withdrawals to circulate cash around the business were matched by deposits at the northern Cyprus end of the operation.

The judge will sum up the case before the jury gives its verdict.

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