British court ruling could see fugitive Cyprus tycoon return

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A British court Friday agreed conditions under which a businessman who fled to Cyprus 17 years ago after being charged with theft following the collapse of his company could return to face trial.

Asil Nadir ran Polly Peck, one of Britain's biggest companies with interests in sectors from textiles to electronics, before its collapse in the early 1990s.

The 69-year-old, who is a Turkish Cypriot, went to northern Cyprus after being charged with 66 counts of theft involving 34 million pounds (40 million euros, 53 million dollars) in 1993.

Northern Cyprus has no extradition treaty with Britain.

His lawyers have recently indicated that he may be prepared to return to Britain to face justice, prompting Friday's hearing after contact between Nadir's representatives and Britain's Serious Fraud Office.

In a hearing at London's Old Bailey, Nadir's lawyers indicated he would be willing to come back and face trial if he was granted bail.

Judge David Bean agreed to the move but imposed a number of conditions, including that Nadir deposit a security of 250,000 pounds with the court, surrender travel documents, agree to be tagged and attend a hearing at the Old Bailey on September 3.

The judge also indicated he would not face arrest if he returned.

"I think it is desirable that the legal limbo as to Mr Nadir's bail status should be brought to an end and he should be given the opportunity to submit to the jurisdiction of this court by attending in person," the judge said.

© 2010 AFP

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