Tycoon Nadir guilty of £5.5m thefts

Former fugitive tycoon Asil Nadir is facing jail after being convicted of plundering millions from his Polly Peck business empire.

An Old Bailey jury found him guilty of three counts of theft amounting to a total of more than £5.5 million.

Nadir was found guilty of stealing £1.3 million to secretly buy Polly Peck shares to bolster its Stock Exchange price. He was also found guilty of stealing £1 million spent on antiques and £3.25 million which went to 19 different destinations. He was cleared of a fourth count of stealing £2.5 million and using it to pay his income tax bill.

The three women and seven men were sent home for the day but will continue deliberating on Tuesday on nine further counts after being given a majority direction. The verdicts came on the seventh day since the jury retired to consider its verdicts.

During the seven-month trial, two of the original jurors were discharged through ill health.

Nadir, 71, of Mayfair, central London, looked shocked as he stood in the dock for the verdicts. He had denied all 13 counts representing theft of £34 million from Polly Peck International (PPI) between 1987 and 1990.

The court heard that Nadir fled Britain in 1993 for his native northern Cyprus before he could be tried and returned voluntarily in 2010. He told the court he left because he was "a broken man without hope" and complained about the Serious Fraud Office investigation.

The prosecution said the charges were specimen counts representing a total theft of £150 million from Polly Peck.

Polly Peck was one of the success stories of the Thatcher era and one of the best-performing companies on the Stock Exchange - but it collapsed in 1990 with debts of £550 million. Polly Peck International was a conglomerate dealing in fruit, leisure, textiles and electronics. Most of its business was based in Turkey and northern Cyprus.

Philip Shears QC, prosecuting, said Nadir was able with only his signature to transfer millions of pounds abroad through a complex series of companies and banks. The stolen money went on making Nadir and his friends and associates rich, it was alleged. Nadir said money sent abroad had been replaced with Turkish lira.