ISTANBUL: Disgraced tycoon Asil Nadir, jailed for stealing millions from his Polly Peck empire, was released from a Turkish prison Friday just one night after being extradited from Britain, media reports said.
The Turkish-Cypriot was convicted in 2012 of purloining nearly £29 million (37 million euros) — the equivalent of more than £70 million in today’s terms — from the major UK conglomerate in the late 1980s.
He was sentenced to 10 years by the Old Bailey and ordered to pay £5 million in compensation.
He was flown out of Britain Thursday after paying the compensation and another £2 million in legal aid.
But he was released Friday after spending just one night in Istanbul’s Silivri prison, the Hurriyet Daily said.
The 74-year old’s sister Bilge Nevzat thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the foreign minister for their efforts in securing her brother’s extradition and release, the daily said.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusogly was quoted as saying the family had made a personal request to Erdogan, and noting that “concerning the crime, there were some differences between Britain and Turkey.”
A spokesperson for Britain’s ministry of justice said the case was now “a matter for the Turkish authorities.”
“Under the Prisoner Transfer Agreement, Turkish authorities are entitled to decide whether those sent back continue to serve their sentences in normal prisons, on license or under house arrest,” the spokesperson said.
Nadir built up the company from a small textile firm into a sprawling empire with interests ranging from fruit to electronics, but it collapsed in 1990 with debts of £550 million.
He was arrested following its collapse but three years later fled to the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which does not have an extradition treaty with Britain.
He returned 17 years later vowing to clear his name, but in 2012 was found guilty of ten counts of theft and sentenced to ten years in jail.
During his seven-month trial, the flamboyant Nadir was driven to hearings in a limousine and lived in a £23,000-a-month house in London’s exclusive Mayfair district, but told the compensation court he was penniless. AFP