Nadir’s crimes brought about change in corporate governance

Businessman Asil Nadir was jailed for ten years on Thursday for stealing almost £29 million from the Polly Peck empire he helped to build up during the 1980s.


Nadir’s crimes ultimately led to the collapse of the firm in 1990 and cost investors £1.3 billion. However, they say every cloud has a silver lining and it seems the legacy left by the firm’s demise is improved corporate governance.


In 1993, Nadir fled the UK amid charges of fraud and theft and spent seventeen years living in Northern Cyprus – the place of his birth.


However, he returned to the UK in September 2010 and was promptly arrested.


His actions were certainly not the first time that one man’s greed has brought down a large institution and probably won’t the last.


But, a number of industry insiders have today told the Financial Times that’s Nadir’s actions have ultimately led to things being tightened up.


Sarah Wilson, chief executive of UK proxy voting firm Manifest, described Polly Peck’s collapse as providing an “Enron moment” for the UK investment sector.


“Some things are almost unrecognisable [since the collapse of Polly Peck]: Joint chairmen-CEO roles, large boards, annual reports were only 50-60 pages long and voting at AGMs was sub 20 per cent,” she added.


“Since that time much more transparency and disclosure has come in…The whole fair trade movement; ethical investing, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, board diversity, it was all triggered from that moment. From bad things, good things often come up.”


Peter Montagnon, senior investment adviser at the FRC, said that the Polly Peck scandal changed the way in which corporate governance is thought of in the UK and lead to the development of a “comply or explain” culture and governance code.


71-year-old Nadir was charged with 13 counts of theft from Polly Peck International between 1987 and 1990 and cleared on one other charge.