ASIL NADIR AND NORTH CYPRUS
Asil Nadir was born in northern Cyprus in 1941, in Lefka, a small town in the east of Cyprus which overlooks Morphou / Guzelyurt Bay.
He is the son of a modest Turkish Cypriot businessman, and grew up in the Agios Loukas district of Famagusta.
At an early age, he had several Greek Cypriot friends at school and never promoted nationalist views.
This was not unusual for people of his generation, as the two communities were reasonably well integrated and people tended to speak both Turkish and Greek.
Those with aspirations also learnt English, as this was the language of the British Colony.
People who knew him say politics was never a major concern, he was always more interested in business opportunities.
In 1963 he moved to London to join his father's textile business. He later set himself up in business and resolved to remain in the UK as ethnic tensions were emerging in North Cyprus.
Nadir was in London in 1974 when Turkey invaded in response to a coup by Greek nationalists in Nicosia. He did not return to Cyprus and fight with his countrymen against the aggression of the Greek Cypriots.
Nadir gave his own account on the inter communal conflict and the intervention of Turkey to the jury at his recent trial: "There was a problem with the two communities and there were three signatories to the Cyprus 1960 independence treaty - Greece, Turkey and Britain”.
The three signatories undertook to maintain peace and harmony between the two communities, with especial reference to the safety of Turkish Cypriots as they were in a significant minority.
He stated "In 1974 Britain and Greece did not head the calls for help from Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, after consultation with Britain, went in there and intervened."
The Turkish army mounted a very successful campaign and quickly established control of the northern part of the island.
When the dust settled the Turks found themselves in possession of property, factories and orchards abandoned by their fleeing Greek Cypriot owners. Similarly, Turkish Cypriots abandoned their lands and properties in the south.
Giving evidence, Mr Nadir said: "After the war the island was split into two. There was a population exchange. All the Turks in the south went to the north and the Greeks in the north went to the south."
From the 1980s and continuing to the present, the economy of the north was and is weakened by a trade embargo, and in the 1980s north cyprus politicians, especially Rauf Denktash sought to encourage entrepreneurial activity from the Turkish Cypriot community.
This situation provided Asil Nadir with major opportunities.
He told the Old Bailey trial he had not done anything improper but added: "Because of the settlement there were a lot of unknowns and a lot of difficulties and a lot of opportunities with properties”.
"The government in the north created property points that were given to people who were displaced from their previous areas. Property points were like title deeds and you could acquire the properties [left by the Greek Cypriots]”.
"There was a legal market in Cyprus which my family was involved in."
Over the next few years Nadir took over a number of hotels, factories, warehouses and citrus fruit orchards. These included the Jasmine Court apartment complex in Kyrenia and the Constantia Hotel (since renamed the Palm Beach Hotel) in Famagusta.
"He is a symbol in Cyprus," says veteran Greek Cypriot politician Alexis Galanos, "for the taking of land and property that did not belong to him and was given to him by [the late Turkish Cypriot political leader, Rauf] Denktash."
The prosecution at Mr Nadir's trial was shown a glossy Polly Peck International promotional video, made in 1989, which featured both the Palm Beach and the Jasmine Court.
The court also saw a contract dated 1988 contract in which the recently formed Turkish Cypriot administration, now referred to as the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, leased Jasmine Court to a Polly Peck subsidiary, Voyager Kibris.
With an astute eye on business opportunities, Asil Nadir acquired a run down fruit-and-vegetable packaging plant at Kato Zodia, near Guzelyurt (or in Greek Morphou), which had belonged to a Greek Cypriot fruit growers' co-operative, Sedigep. He also acquired a large amount of fruit producing land nearby.
This is a sensitive point, as it is unlikely that Mr Nadir, or any other Turkish Cypriot who took over empty premises and vacant land, paid any significant sum of money to the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) administration for these major assets.
In court, Mr Nadir admitted that he took over Polly Peck International in 1980, including Uni-Pac and Sunzest Trading 'For virtually nothing'. In reality, the accounts of PPI show that Mr Nadir paid £270,000 for the company.
Uni-Pac Packaging was a corrugated box manufacturer which packaged TRNC fruit for export markets, including Turkey. Voyager Kibris Ltd was the vehicle Mr Nadir used to purchase the Sheraton Voyager hotel in Turkey and to develop hotels in North Cyprus.
There are longstanding rumours that Mr Nadir was especially favoured by Rauf Denktas, the president of the TRNC.
It is true that President Denktas offered Mr Nadir sanctuary in north cyprus after the collapse of the Polly Peck empire, but Mr Nadir was only one of the entrepreneurs who benefitted from the departure of Greek CYpriots from the north.
Unlike several other recipients of land and assets, Asil Nadir made good use of these opportunities and invested funds into TRNC business operations in order to develop them for the demanding requirements of export markets. In 1993, Denktas and Nadir had a public exchange of acrimonious comments and Denktas called for his arrest on tax evasion charges. This matter was never pursued.
Mr Nadir has generally supported and been associated with the National Unity Party, UBP, and Denktas led the UBP for many years. There was a period from around 2003 to 2009, when he appeared out of favour and the CTP-BG were in office.