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LONDON (AP) — A Turkish Cypriot tycoon jailed in Britain for stealing millions of pounds from his collapsed business empire told a hearing Thursday that he is broke, prompting incredulity from prosecutors.
Asil Nadir, 71, was sentenced to 10 years in jail last month following his conviction on charges of stealing 28.6 million pounds ($46.3 million) from Polly Peck International. The company he built from a small textile firm into a conglomerate with interests in food, electronics and the leisure industry collapsed in 1990 with debts of 550 million pounds.
Nadir fled to Northern Cyprus shortly before he was to stand trial in 1993, but returned voluntarily to Britain two years ago, saying he wanted to clear his name.
On Thursday he was back at London's Old Bailey court for a hearing to decide if he must pay compensation to administrators of Polly Peck. He said he has no assets and has been "wholly reliant" on the generosity of family and associates to pay for his and his wife's lifestyle, staff and legal fees following his 1992 bankruptcy.
Prosecutor Philip Shears called that claim "an affront to common sense" and said Nadir didn't provide full disclosure of his financial resources before the hearing. Nadir's lawyer Philip Hackett said "there is not a shred of evidence" his client has been involved in any business and that Britain's Serious Fraud Office had been unable to find assets in Nadir's name.
Judge Timothy Holroyde, describing Nadir as a "highly intelligent and a highly successful businessman," said he was not immediately convinced the tycoon had been lively solely off others' generosity.
The hearing was adjourned until Oct. 31 for Nadir to provide more information.
---Cassandra Vinograd can be reached at http://twitter.com/CassVinograd