TURKISH Cypriot businessman Asil Nadir, who had been jailed in Britain in 2012 for stealing millions from his business empire, was released in Turkey on Friday just one day after he was returned there to complete his sentence, local media reported.
He is expected to return to northern Cyprus very soon, where he had been holed up for years avoiding British law.
Nadir was flown from London to Istanbul on Thursday evening after British authorities accepted his request to serve the rest of his sentence in Turkey. A court ruling seen by Reuters said Nadir would be released on probation, serving the rest of his sentence outside prison, and that there was no need to monitor him.
His sister Bilge Nevzat thanked Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu for their efforts in her brother’s extradition and release, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
She reportedly said that he would arrive on a flight to Ercan within a few days.
“It is very important for my brother to return to Cyprus,” she was quoted as saying. “For many years we have been struggling. The return of my brother will be good for the country. With his past experience and knowledge he will contribute to this country.”
The 74-year-old was jailed for ten years in 2012 for stealing £29m from Polly Peck, an ailing textiles company which he transformed into one of the most successful British firms of the 1980s.
Its later collapse was one of Britain’s biggest corporate failures and was an embarrassment for the Conservative Party, which had accepted big donations from Nadir in the 1980s.
Earlier on Friday, a Justice Ministry spokeswoman in London said government policy was to remove foreign criminals to their own countries.
“Arrangements were made with the Turkish government for his removal as part of our prisoner transfer agreement,” she said.
Nadir had arrived on a Turkish Airlines plane and was escorted to a police station at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, the private news agency Dogan reported. Television footage showed him sitting in the back of a car as it arrived at the gates of Silivri prison, west of Istanbul.
The repatriation took place after Nadir repaid £2m he owed the legal aid agency and £5m in compensation he paid earlier.
Polly Peck collapsed in 1990 when British officials began a fraud investigation. Nadir was arrested but after being released on bail fled the country in a private plane to live in the Turkish Cypriot breakaway state in northern Cyprus, where he was beyond the reach of British law.
Nadir returned to London in 2010 to clear his name after 17 years on the run, but he was found guilty of 10 out of 13 charges of theft.