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Asil Nadir tells compensation hearing he is penniless

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

Former fugitive tycoon Asil Nadir has told a court he has no assets.

The 71-year-old - serving 10 years for stealing £28.8m from his Polly Peck empire in the 1980s - returned to the Old Bailey for a compensation hearing.

The prosecution said his claim that he relied on the generosity of friends and family was "an affront to common sense" and a "sham".

The trial judge is to decide if the administrators of Nadir's now defunct company can claim compensation.

Mr Justice Holroyde will also assess whether an order can be made to recover costs of the prosecution and legal aid.

Nadir fled the UK for Cyprus in 1993 while awaiting trial but returned in 2010 in an attempt to clear his name.

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

Common sense

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.

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.

Before the hearing, Nadir was ordered to provide details of his finances and assets under a Financial Circumstances Order.

But Philip Shears QC, prosecuting, said he had "failed to provide full and frank disclosure of his financial resources" and dismissed the claim that "he has no personal assets whatever".

Mr Shears described the defendant's position as "an affront to common sense", adding that it was "inconsistent with evidence given by him and on his behalf during the trial".

He contended that Nadir's use of the word "family" when having to explain his finances was misleading as his personal wealth was held in common with his relatives.

The prosecution said there had been no explanation about the whereabouts of a painting and jewellery, bought in 1989 using Polly Peck money.

The court heard that the painting, which was referred to in a letter dated 2 October 1992 by the solicitors for the trustee in bankruptcy proceedings, was worth £420,000 and called La Nuit a Bruges.

Nadir had lived at a property in London's Mayfair in the two years before his trial and Mr Shears did not accept that the £500,000 rental costs had been paid by someone else.

The seven-month trial, which ended last month, saw Nadir convicted of 10 of the sample charges he faced and acquitted of three.

The court was told that the amount of compensation being sought was around £60m, which would take account of interest.

Philip Hackett QC, representing Nadir, said the Serious Fraud Office had been unable to find any assets in his name.

'Concrete impossibility'

"There is not a shred of evidence that he has been involved in any business," said Mr Hackett.

His newspaper shareholding had been put in trust to his mother and his only income had been a £6,000-a-month consultancy fee.

Nadir's rent in Mayfair, estimated to have amounted to £500,000, and living expenses in London had been provided by Turkish airline owner Hamit Cankut Bagana.

"Mr Bagana urged him to return to the UK to clear his name," said Mr Hackett.

He added that Mr Nadir said he could not afford to do so and Mr Bagana "underlined his expenses".

After fleeing the UK, Nadir remained a fugitive in northern Cyprus. The Turkish-controlled territory is not recognised as a state and has no extradition treaty with the UK.

The judge, Mr Justice Holroyde, said Nadir was a "highly intelligent and a highly successful businessman", adding that he was "not immediately convinced" by the former fugitive tycoon's claims to have been living off the generosity of others.

"This shows the concrete impossibility of getting information out of Northern Cyprus unless Mr Nadir chooses to release it," said the judge.

The hearing was adjourned to 31 October for Nadir to provide more information.

More on this story

  • Asil Nadir jailed for 10 years for Polly Peck thefts