Asil Nadir ordered to pay £5m compensation

Asil Nadir Asil Nadir fled the UK for Cyprus in 1993 but returned in bid to clear his name

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Former tycoon Asil Nadir has been ordered to pay £5m compensation in two years or face six more years in prison.

The 71-year-old was jailed for 10 years in August for stealing £28.8m from his Polly Peck empire in the 1980s.

He claimed he had no assets after prosecutors demanded £60m in compensation to administrators.

But trial judge Mr Justice Holroyde said it was not true that Nadir had not received any significant income after fleeing to Cyprus in 1993.

He left the UK for northern Cyprus while awaiting trial but returned in 2010 saying he wanted to clear his name.

'Systematically disbelieved'

Former Stock Exchange listed company Polly Peck International [PPI] collapsed in 1990 owing £550m and Nadir was declared bankrupt two years later.

PPI 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.

Analysis

Why is Asil Nadir being made to pay £5m in compensation when he was found guilty of stealing £29m?

In fact the prosecution had sought a compensation order in the sum of £60m covering the £29m that he had stolen, plus the interest that would have accrued since the thefts which took place between 1987-90.

The judge found that, in the absence of any help from Nadir about the true nature of his finances, he was having to do the best that he could on the evidence available, and was erring on the side of generosity in fixing upon £5m.

Nadir now has two years to pay the money. If he fails to do that, he will be brought before a magistrates' court. It can normally only sentence a person to six months, so the judge Mr Justice Holroyde has enlarged its powers to enable it to sentence Nadir to anything up to an additional six years' imprisonment.

By 1990 it was on the FTSE 100 index and was one of the stock exchange's best performing companies but the share price collapsed after the Serious Fraud Office raided its offices.

BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman said Nadir's case had been "systematically disbelieved by the judge".

Nadir had argued in the 17 years he lived in Cyprus he had engaged in no commercial activity and filed a document saying he had no assets or means, living on the generosity of his mother and a girlfriend.

But the judge said: "It is not true that Mr Nadir received no significant income or owned no significant assets since 1993."

Mr Justice Holroyde, sitting at the Old Bailey, also said he found Nadir's sister to be "evasive and untruthful" in her evidence.

'Side of caution'

It was argued on his behalf that Nadir had not taken part in business during his years in exile.

But the judge said he could not accept that "such a proud and talented man" would have lived off handouts from his mother and a girlfriend.

He added: "Why would he have impoverished and demeaned himself in such a way?"

Nadir had not helped in revealing his finances but the judge said he did not think he could make an order for the full amount.

He said: "Conscious that I am probably erring on the side of caution and being more generous to the defendant than he deserves, I believe he has the means to pay compensation of £5m."

Nadir thanked the judge from the dock before being taken away to Belmarsh prison. He may be released after serving half of both sentences.

The judge also ruled that Turkish airline boss Hamit Cankut Bagana could apply for the return of the £250,000 security he paid to allow Nadir bail.

Clare Whitaker, of the Serious Fraud Office, said outside court it was pleased that the victims of the collapse of Polly Peck had been given the opportunity for compensation.

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