7 Bedford Row barrister begins Polly Peck prosecution

Philip Shears QC of 7 Bedford Row has begun arguments for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the Old Bailey trial of disgraced tycoon Asil Nadir.

Nadir is alleged to have stolen almost £150m from his failed business empire Polly Peck International (PPI). Shears told the Old Bailey how Nadir had allegedly used a network of accounts to transfer money from his textile company to benefit himself and his associates, as the long-awaited trial got underway today.

The court also heard had how Nadir had purportedly used a series of companies, administered in Switzerland but based in Liberia and the West Indies, to secretly buy shares in PPI, bolstering its share price.

Nadir is accused of having used the stolen money to buy a number of luxury properties worth over £14m, including a £7m country estate, which he intended to turn into a hotel and golf course. The thefts are believed to have taken place between 1987 and 1990 with the firm collapsing in October 1990 with debts of around £550m.

Nadir was due to stand trial in 1993 but fled to his native Northern Cyprus the same year, only returning in August 2010.

He faces 13 counts relating to transfers of £34m but has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Bark & Co partner Giles Bark-Jones instructed Argent Chambers’ Philip Hackett QC on behalf of the defendant. 2 Bedford Row’s William Clegg had originally been representing Nadir, but was forced to pull out over diary commitments.