Turkish Cypriot tycoon Asil Nadir was found guilty of theft last night over the collapse of his Polly Peck business empire, one of a series of debacles that focused public attention on the corporate greed of 1980s Britain.

Nadir, formerly one of Britain’s most notorious fugitives, was found guilty of three counts of theft at the Old Bailey in London.

The jury was still considering a further nine counts of theft after Nadir, one of the highest-profile businessmen in Britain in the 1980s, denied stealing £150 million ($225m) from his business empire.

He was cleared of one count of theft.

The 71-year-old tycoon looked shocked as the verdicts were announced. His wife Nur, 28, sat at the side of the dock.

Nadir was arrested in 1990 after his company Polly Peck International went into administration with debts of £550m and he was charged with more than 60 counts of theft.

Three years later, he fled for Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, which does not have an extradition treaty with Britain.

He returned to Britain two years ago in a dramatic bid to clear his name.

Legal analysts speculated that Nadir was gambling that so much time had elapsed that a prosecution would be too complex to pull off successfully.

Polly Peck was an obscure British company until Nadir took over in 1980, turning the modest textile firm into a vehicle for a wave of acquisitions, including Del Monte’s fresh fruit operations and Japan’s Sansui Electric. The stock went through the roof and Nadir became one of Britain’s richest men.

But the story fell apart after investigators began probing irregularities in Nadir family trusts. The tycoon denied charges he had stolen from Polly Peck to line his pockets, but the company’s share price collapsed and the company itself went under in 1990.

The saga was deeply embarrassing for the then-ruling Conservative Party, to which Nadir was a major donor.

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