Turkish Cypriot tycoon guilty on charges of theft

A British jury has found Turkish Cypriot tycoon Asil Nadir guilty of 10 charges of theft from his collapsed Polly Peck conglomerate, 22 years after the company folded.

A jury at the Central Criminal Court returned seven guilty verdicts on Wednesday, in addition to three convictions decided on Monday. Nadir, 71, was found not guilty on three other charges of theft. Sentencing was set for Thursday.

Nadir was convicted of stealing a total of 28.6 million pounds ($45 million) from Polly Peck, which he built from a small textile firm in London into a conglomerate with interests in food, electronics and the leisure industry.

The company collapsed in 1990 with debts of 550 million pounds. In 1993, Nadir fled to Northern Cyprus, which had no extradition treaty with Britain, shortly before he was to stand trial.

Nadir returned in 2010 to face criminal charges, and went on trial in January charged with 13 counts of theft.

His wife Nur said he planned to appeal.

"A guilty man does not come back to face justice of his own accord," said Mrs. Nadir, 28.

Prosecutor Philip Shears had told the jury that Nadir, as chairman and chief executive of Polly Peck, had diverted millions of company funds to himself, his family and his associates.

At the end of 1989, Shears said, more than 80 percent of Polly Peck's cash balance was in subsidiaries in Turkey and Northern Cyprus, and most of the money wound up in a maze of offshore companies.

"When the administrators went to northern Cyprus, they effectively found no cash at all, just a black hole," Shears said. "There is a perfectly good explanation for that — it had gone. Asil Nadir had stolen it."