Guilty ten times over

Michael Bow
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■ Ex-Polly Peck chief stole £28.9m
■ Sentence to be given this morning
■ Creditors seek £374m in assets
■ Triumph for the Serious Fraud Office
■ Wife vows he will appeal verdict

FORMER fugitive tycoon Asil Nadir was yesterday convicted of plundering £28.9m from his former company Polly Peck International in a complex financial saga dating back more than 20 years.

Nadir, who fled the UK in 1993 after the collapse of the firm three years earlier, was convicted of stealing the money from the company he helped build into a global conglomerate during the 1980s, bringing to a close a seven-month trial at the Old Bailey.

Jurors yesterday returned a guilty verdict on seven counts of theft totalling £23.4m in addition to guilty verdicts on three other counts of theft totalling £5.5m delivered on Monday. Nadir, 71, was found not guilty on three separate counts of theft totalling around £5.8m.

He is set to be sentenced this morning. He was remanded in custody on Monday following the first batch of verdicts but supporters have vowed he will appeal the conviction.

The Serious Fraud Office, which investigated and prosecuted the case, yesterday called the conviction a “remarkable achievement”.

Director David Green said: “These cases are high profile and carry high risk; they can only be addressed with clarity, expertise and resilience.”

SFO case manager Clare Whitaker welcomed the verdicts and said the organisation was “pleased that justice has at last been done”.

She added: “The multi million pound fraud on Polly Peck International Plc by the defendant caused the collapse of the company.”

Nadir’s wife Nur, 28, said he would appeal the convictions. “This unhappy affair is certainly not over yet,” she said. “He wants justice for himself and for the tens of thousands of shareholders and employees.”

Creditors are now seeking to reclaim £374m in assets from Nadir, with Polly Peck administrators seeking £262m and other creditors after £112m.

To date Nadir’s bankruptcy has only recovered £2.8m.

The case, which cost £3m to bring to trial, adds another chapter to a 22 year saga which saw the collapse of one of the stock market stars of the 1980s. It grew to a 200 subsidiary conglomerate between 1985 and 1990 before collapsing with £550m of debt. Nadir returned to the UK in 2010 for trial.

Tories refuse request to return cash

THE Conservative Party yesterday said it would only pay back party donations made by Polly Peck International if there was proof the cash donated was stolen by Asil Nadir, after bankruptcy administrators said they would pursue the party for the money.

Trustees handling Nadir’s bankruptcy wrote to party officials yesterday requesting donations made to the party be given back to repay creditors.

But the party said there was no evidence the cash that was given by Polly Peck International had been stolen.

A spokesman said: “The Conservative Party has no record of having received donations from Asil Nadir.’”

Kevin Hellard, partner at Grant Thornton and the man appointed to handle Nadir’s bankruptcy said: “The Conservative Party has previously stated that it would repay the funds donated by Mr Nadir in the event that he is found guilty and we confirm that we have requested the repayment of those funds.”