Asil Nadir flies back to UK to clear his name
Polly Peck tycoon and Conservative party donor Asil Nadir fled £34m fraud trial 17 years ago. He was one of Britain’s most notorious fugitives and is flying back to the UK in an attempt to clear his name 17 years after fleeing the country in a private jet.
Asil Nadir, 69, is returning to face the multimillion pound fraud charges that followed the spectacular collapse of his Polly Peck food and electronics empire in 1993. He arrived at Luton airport from his native northern Cyprus at lunchtime today, and is due to appear at the Old Bailey next Thursday.
Nadir, said he believed the legal “environment” was right for him to return. He is quoted as saying: “I’m hoping to get a fair trial, if this matter goes to trial, obviously. But that was not the case in the past. I spent from 1990 to 1993, almost December of 93, battling with immense injustice and tremendous abuse of power in Britain. “My health had deteriorated and at that point I felt that, to save my life, I had to come to recuperate … I have been asking since then for the environment to be as it is today.”
Nadir claimed he had already “proved my innocence to the authorities without doubt but nobody took any notice at that time” and denied having made a deal over his treatment when he returns.
“I have not done a deal. My lawyers have asked for me to be granted bail before I came to England and that was decided,” he said. “There is no deal. There is only one deal and that is, I am hoping I will see for the first time some justice.”
Nadir will have to wear an electronic tag until the end of his trial and pay a bail surety of £250,000.
Nadir, who now runs a media firm in the Turkish-controlled territory, claims that there was a grave abuse of process in the case brought against him by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). For years he has alleged that the police and the SFO placed the judge in his case under improper pressure, made false allegations of corruption against him and his advisers and seized documents necessary for his defence.
Polly Peck, the company that Nadir built up from scratch, dealt in everything from fruit to fashion and was one of the biggest City success stories of the 1980s, delivering returns to shareholders of up to 1,000 times their original investment. The former rag salesman was 39th on the Sunday Times Rich List, owned a string of luxury properties in Britain, an island in the Aegean and a dozen racehorses. He was also a major Tory party donor, a frequent guest at Downing Street, and was friends with the royal family.
His empire collapsed in 1990 when he was arrested on theft and false accounting charges.
Last month he was granted bail by an Old Bailey judge, who said he hoped his ruling would end the “legal limbo” which had existed since Nadir fled. The judge also quashed an arrest warrant for Nadir and imposed 10 conditions on bail , one of which is to appear at the Old Bailey on 3 September.
Nadir’s newly-issued British passport will be surrendered to the SFO, but it is expected that the electronic tag he will have to wear as part of the bail agreement will not be fitted until after his court appearance.