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British authorities pave the way for Nadir's return.

BRITISH prosecutors will not oppose the release on bail of fugitive Turkish Cypriot business tycoon, Asil Nadir, pending his trial for an alleged multi-million-pound fraud, the Times newspaper reported yesterday.

In an interview with the Times, Richard Alderman, director of the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO), said that he would listen to any serious proposal on bail conditions from the former Polly Peck chairman.

Nadir, 69, is currently beyond the reach of UK courts, after he fled to the occupied areas in May 1993 to avoid standing trial for fraud connected to the collapse of his business empire.

The breakthrough in the case came a week after he said, in an interview with The Times newspaper in London, that he would be prepared to live under stringent bail conditions in London, including a curfew and wearing an electronic tag, to fight a legal battle that he believes would prove his innocence.

"A decision on bail is ultimately a question for the court," Alderman said. "Subject to this, the SFO would not resist bail if the conditions offered were sufficient to satisfy us that Mr Nadir would stay in the UK for the trial. Mr Nadir has an opportunity to put an offer to the SFO. The SFO will decide whether to accept or reject but will not enter into a process of negotiation about the detail to make the conditions acceptable."

Alderman's decision marks a significant change in the SFO's approach, having previous opposed bail for Nadir due his high risk of fleeing again. SFO sources told the Times that the new stance "puts the ball back in Mr Nadir's court".

Dominic Grieve, QC, England's Attorney-General, has been informed of Alderman's new approach and of the possibility that it could lead to Nadir's return.

Asked about the SFO decision this week, Nadir told the Times: "Goodness! I am delighted to hear this. I think we are moving in the right direction."

A spokesman for Bark & Co, who represent Nadir solicitors have been informed, and a spokesman said: "This is a very welcome development. We will be contacting the SFO to see how things can be moved forward from here."

Nadir's departure 17 years ago provoked a political and legal scandal. The businessman, who built Polly Peck from an East End rag trade firm to a Au1.7 billion multinational in ten years of whirlwind mergers, trades and acquisitions, had been a major donor to the Conservative Party, contributing about Au500,000 during the 1980s, and senior Tories were concerned about how his case had been investigated by the SFO.

Nadir contends that the fraud charges should be dropped because of abuses by the police and SFO. If granted bail, he would make an abuse-of-process application in the High Court. His lawyers would allege, among other things, that privileged defence case papers were improperly seized, examined and distributed by the authorities.

They would also claim that several warrants to search Nadir's properties and offices were obtained illegally because, at the time, he was already co-operating with the authorities looking into his and Polly Peck's finances.

Most seriously, they would argue that allegations that Nadir tried to bribe the judge in his trial amounted to a deliberate attempt to destabilise his defence. The claims, made by a registered police informant, led to a delay in pretrial proceedings while they were investigated. That inquiry found the bribery claim to be unfounded.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2009

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Jul 10, 2010
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