Asil Nadir convicted and jailed.

22 July 2013

Mr Nadir built Polly Peck International (PPI) from small beginnings as a fashion company to an international conglomerate, one of the stock exchange's best performing companies, which also appeared on the FTSE 100.  However, the share price crashed when the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) raided it's offices.  Charges were brought against Mr Nadir and while awaiting trial in 1993, he fled to his native Northern Cyprus where he remained as a high profile 'fugitive' until he returned to the UK in 2010.

Those present during the trial report Mr Nadir as a man of considerable charisma and unfailing politeness throughout.  He is clearly an intelligent man and believed he could defeat the SFO and all it's evidence.  Asked by a BBC reporter what he would do if he was acquitted, he stated "When I am cleared, I will go and run Northern Cyprus."

In sentencing Mr Justice Holroyde said that Nr Nadir had outstanding business skills and had brought employment and financial benefit to many people.  But he added "You were a wealthy man who stole out of pure greed."  The total 10 year sentence was made up of 7 years for those offences committed before the SFO audit, and 3 years to run consecutively for those committed after, which the Judge said was "to mark your persistence in offending repeatedly over a lengthy period".  The Judge expressed the opinion that Mr Nadir blamed everyone but himself and had failed to show any remorse since returning to the UK.  He added "The company's success was in many ways your success. But the company's money was not your money. You knew that. You nonetheless helped yourself to it and committed theft on a grand scale."

A representative of the SFO confirmed that it was their intention to seek compensation for the administrators of PPI, and there will be a further hearing in that regard in September, and when the court will also decide whether Mr Nadir should pay prosecution and defence costs.

Meanwhile, there have been calls from a Labour MP for the Conservative Party to repay donations to the party made by PPI.  However, the Conservatives state that the donations were made by the company and not by Mr Nadir himself, and there is, therefore, no reason to suggest that the funds were stolen.  Rather unhelpfully for the Tories, former Conservative Party chairman, Lord McAlpine, has stated that it would be 'morally wrong' in his view for the money – donated from 1985 to 1990 – not to be repaid.

Lord McAlpine told the Daily Mail: "It is tainted money and it shames the Conservatives if they hang on to it. They have a moral duty to give it back.  The moment he fled the country in 1993, to avoid criminal charges, it was obvious to me he was a complete conman. Frankly, the Tories should have given the money back in 1993.  But today the case is even clearer. There is a moral imperative for the money to be returned. The money was not Asil Nadir's to give although we thought it was at the time.  Therefore the Tory party has a duty to return it. It will speak volumes about the character of the modern Tory party if they don't do the right thing. I trust that David Cameron is an honourable man."

Lord McAlpine was the Conservative Party treasurer at the time the donations were made.

Mr Nadir is now 71 years of age and suffers from coronary heart disease and high blood pressure.  Many will ask why he returned to the UK when he had no reason to do so, leaving a life of apparent comfort in Northern Cyprus, safe from extradition.  Maybe as a man labelled for many years as a fraudster, he wanted to take the necessary action to clear his name, whatever the risks.  Following his conviction, Mr Nadir has issued a statement saying that he is "most disappointed", and his solicitors have confirmed that he maintains his innocence and will be lodging an appeal.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.