Asil Nadir found guilty of Polly Peck theft

  • 20 August 2012
  • From the section UK
Asil Nadir
Image caption Asil Nadir was living in northern Cyprus but returned to the UK in 2010 to face the charges against him

Former Polly Peck tycoon Asil Nadir has been found guilty of three counts of theft by a jury at the Old Bailey.

Nadir, 71, had been charged with 13 counts of theft of £34m from Polly Peck International between 1987 and 1990. He has been cleared of one count.

The jury still has to reach verdicts over nine further allegations of theft, having been directed by the judge that it can come to a majority decision.

It has now been sent home and will resume deliberations on Tuesday.

Polly Peck International (PPI) was a FTSE 100 company when it collapsed after the Serious Fraud Office launched an investigation into Asil Nadir's finances in 1990.

The company began as a small fashion company but expanded into the food, leisure and electronics industries under Nadir's ownership, growing into a business empire with more than 200 subsidiaries worldwide.

Among them were Del Monte's fresh fruit operation and the large European electronics firm, Sansui Electric Co.

Nadir fled the UK for his native northern Cyprus in 1993, but returned voluntarily in 2010 to face trial nearly two decades later.

Northern Cyprus is not recognised as a state and has no extradition treaty with the UK.

The three counts on which Nadir has been found guilty are:

  • Stealing £1.3m from PPI to pay for PPI shares in June 1989
  • Stealing £1m from PPI to pay for antiques in December 1989
  • Stealing £3.25m from PPI in March 1990 and placing it in 19 different end destinations

He was found not guilty of stealing £2.5m from PPI in December 1989 to pay tax to the Inland Revenue and for Noble Air Ltd, the ticket agency for the Noble Air airline that Nadir owned.

Prosecutors say Nadir stole approximately £150m from PPI between 1987 and 1990. The 13 charges with which he was charged are specimen charges totalling £34m.

These also include an alleged theft of £5.1m to buy shares and share options, £5m to go towards buying a Turkish newspaper group, £2m to go to Nadir's private companies and $2m (£1.27m) allegedly stolen from PPI to buy Boeing aircraft.

The money was often stolen to pay debts, the jury was told at the start of the trial.

Prosecutors say money was siphoned from Polly Peck accounts in London and transferred via the Channel Islands, Switzerland and northern Cyprus to fund Nadir's pet projects for his family and associates.

Nadir does not deny that the transfers occurred but has always maintained that he had already made equal and balancing deposits into the northern Cyprus end of his empire. The prosecution told the jury this was implausible.