POLLY Peck International founder Asil Nadir, one of the London stock market stars of the 1980s, was yesterday found guilty of three counts of theft totaling £5.5m from the former FTSE 100-listed global conglomerate.
Turkish-Cypriot born Nadir, who left the UK for northern Cyprus in 1993 and returned in August 2010 to face the charges, was found guilty on the three counts of theft by a jury at the Old Bailey yesterday.
He was cleared of one count of theft totaling £2.5m. The jury has yet to reach a verdict over nine further allegations of theft.
It was sent home last night and will resume deliberations this morning.
Nadir, 71, had been charged with 13 specimen counts of theft of £34m from PPI between 1987 and 1990.
The three counts for which Nadir has been found guilty are for stealing £1.3m from PPI to pay for company shares on 15 June 1989, stealing £1m from the firm to pay for antiques on 19 December 1989, and stealing £3.25m from the firm on 19 March 1990 and placing it in 19 different end destinations.
Born in Cyprus in 1941, Nadir sold newspapers at the age of six before moving with his family to London in the 1950s.
The tycoon, once dubbed the Sultan of Berkeley Square by a biographer, bought the Polly Peck textiles company in the late 1970s and set about turning it into one of the biggest public companies in the UK.
Polly Peck duly became the darling of the London markets during the boom years of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government. It enjoyed a stellar rise during the 1980s and became the best performer on the London Stock Exchange.
The firm, based out of a small office in Mayfair, had interests spanning the globe. It owned Santana in America, Del Monte in South America, Vestel and Pizza Hut in Turkey, Sunzest and Unipac in Cyprus and Japanese electronics maker Sansui.
In the UK it controlled Joseph Le Shark and Russell Hobbs.
However, on 19 September 1990 its shares plummeted from an opening price of 243p to 108p in a matter or hours, and its shares were suspended. The firm collapsed the following year amid an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.
This year’s trial, which has been running since January, has seen prosecutors for the Serious Fraud Office, led by Philip Shears QC, argue the case against Nadir.
Nadir has been represented by Philip Hackett QC.
Kingsley Napley criminal department head Stephen Parkinson said the SFO has done “particularly well” to bring the case given the length of time that has elapsed.
“This is a flagship case for the SFO and the reputation of the Office depends upon its flagship cases.
“The SFO has done particularly well given the circumstances such as the age of this case.”
Nadir has argued he had been unjustly treated by the SFO.
The UK that Nadir left in 1993
The land Asil Nadir found when he returned to the UK in 2010 was distinctly altered from the one he left in 1993. Music and film had reached something of a high water mark in 1993, with Meat Loaf’s seminal I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) dominating the airwaves and blockbusters such as Jurassic Park and Mrs Doubtfire filling cinemas.
For those thirsty after all this entertainment, a pint of lager would set them back just £1.44. A first class stamp class was 25p, a pint of milk cost 34p, and bread was just 48p a loaf.
But some things have stayed the same since those halcyon days – the Prime Minister was Conservative and Kenneth Clarke was in the Cabinet.