London – After a seven month trial, Asil Nadir has been convicted of a complex series of fraud charges dating back to the 1990s. He will be sentenced tomorrow.
Earlier this month, shopworker Farrakh Nizzar was convicted of stealing a winning lottery ticket from an elderly woman. Though it was worth a cool one million pounds, he duped her into believing it was worth nothing, and after she threw it away, he fished it out of the bin and attempted to claim her prize for himself. On conviction, he was warned to expect a custodial sentence, and this week, after putting his affairs in order, he returned to court where he was given 30 months.
Someone who can expect a far longer sentence is former high flying businessman Asil Nadir.
To most people today, PPI means bank fraud. Back in the 1980s though it stood not for payment protection insurance but for Polly Peck International. This company had been around for many years, but after Nadir bought a stake in it in 1980, it grew and grew and was soon buying everything in sight, moving from textiles into electronics and God knows what else.
Alas, what goes up, must come down, and although by 1989 it was admitted to the Financial Times Share Index top 100, things turned sour almost overnight. After an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, Nadir was charged with theft and false accounting, but in 1993 while on bail he fled to Northern Cyprus, which has no extradition treaty with the UK, as one pundit put it, Asil Not Here.
For whatever reason: arrogance, delusion or a belief that after all this time the papers would have been lost, important witnesses would be dead, etc, Nadir decided to return to face trial and clear his name. He arrived back in the UK two years ago and by arrangement was granted bail with a heavy surety and strict conditions.
Now, after a trial lasting seven months, he has been convicted on most of the charges. As his wife left the Central Criminal Court alone today she refused to speak to the media, but when asked if he would appeal, she replied simply yes.
It is widely believed that the wealthy are able to buy a better class of justice; in cases like this, that is seldom true. The ordinary people who sit on juries are unlikely to show any mercy or benefit of the doubt to wealthy people who are caught with their hands in the till, as the 2003 Corporate Services Group case demonstrated. Here too it was mostly “little people” who lost out, and the 71 year old Nadir can expect no more mercy from the judge when he is sentenced tomorrow than he got from the jury.