TURKISH Cypriot Polly Peck tycoon Asil Nadir flew from London Heathrow to Istanbul on Thursday night under a prisoner transfer agreement with the UK.
Though the deal implies Nadir would serve the rest of his sentence in a Turkish prison, according to Britain’s Sun newspaper “the 74-year-old swindler is now expected to spend the last 16 months of his sentence under house arrest at his palatial home” in the north of Cyprus.
Nadir was escorted under guard to Heathrow airport on Thursday afternoon, British media said.
In August 2012, Nadir, who fled Britain overnight for Cyprus in 1993 when facing the collapse of his business and 66 counts of fraud, was eventually jailed for 10 years in the UK in 2012 after being found guilty of stealing £28.8 million from Polly Peck and its shareholders.
He was also ordered to pay £5 million in compensation. Nadir had returned voluntarily to Britain in 2010 to face trial.
After repaying the money, as well as £2 million in legal aid, Nadir who has Turkish citizenship, was transferred to Turkey, the British ministry of justice said on Thursday night, according to the UK Press Association.
A spokesman from the UK justice ministry said: “It is right that foreign criminals are properly punished but not at the expense of British taxpayers.
“This government is committed to removing foreign criminals to their own countries.
“Since Asil Nadir has now repaid the £2m he owed the Legal Aid Agency, plus £5m in compensation he paid earlier, arrangements were made with the Turkish government for his removal as part of our Prisoner Transfer Agreement,” the spokesman said.
The Turkish Airlines plane carrying Nadir landed just after 10pm at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport and Nadir was taken to the offices of the airport police, Turkish media said. A video posted on YouTube showed Nadir arriving and being escorted to an airport bus.
In 1993, while awaiting trial on 66 counts of theft, Nadir fled Britain in the middle of the night for the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’. After 17 years, he returned to the UK in a private jet, vowing to clear his name in court. His trial did not start until January 2012.
The jury found he raided the company to pay for his multi-million-pound property empire, racehorses, antiques, fast cars and jewellery.
In the same year he was ordered to pay back £5 million of the money he stole from his company – or face a further six years’ jail.
In July 2014 the Daily Mail cited the Serious Fraud Office as saying the £5million payment had been made ‘in full’ but it was unable to say how the supposedly broke tycoon had paid up.
The judge had ordered that Nadir was to serve only half of his sentence, meaning he was eligible for release in August 2017.
Following Nadir’s conviction, Justice Holroyde told him: “It seems to me that you already had an extravagant lifestyle as a result of your success in business.
“It follows that you were a wealthy man who stole out of pure greed.”
The Daily Mail also reported at the time that Nadir could even be returned to Cyprus – where he reportedly owns a sumptuous villa – before 2017 if his application under a ‘prisoner transfer’ scheme proved successful.
In the same July 2014 report, the paper said that during the trial the tycoon’s lawyers racked up almost £2 million in legal fees, at taxpayers’ expense.
Meanwhile Nadir was living it up in a £23,000-a-month central London rental. Nadir, now 75, claimed at the time that his family paid for it all.
Fraud investigators at the time suspected Nadir had tens of millions of pounds stashed away in secret accounts or offshore trusts.
When he was convicted in 2012, Nadir’s wife Nur said he was innocent and announced he would appeal, raising the prospect of taxpayers having to fork out for new legal fees.
According to the Daily Mail, in the 1980s Nadir donated £440,000 to the Conservative Party which it has refused to return despite his conviction.
Nadir was the chief of the influential Kıbrıs Media Group, which publishes the newspaper Kıbrıs and the English language bi-weekly Cyprus Today.