POLITICS
22/08/2012 11:16 BST | Updated 22/10/2012 06:12 BST

Tories Won't Repay Polly Peck Donations In Wake Of Asil Nadir Conviction

The Conservative Party has rejected calls to repay donations received from Asil Nadir's Polly Peck business empire, insisting there is no evidence the money was stolen.

It has been claimed the Tories received around £440,000 from the firm, whose former owner has been convicted of 10 charges involving the theft of nearly £30m from the company.

At the time of the firm's collapse the affair was highly damaging to the Tories, amid accusations Nadir tried to get the charges against him dropped because of his previous donations.

Polly Peck collapsed in the early 1990s with debts of half a billion pounds. Asil Nadir managed to flee the country in 1993 and was considered on the run for nearly twenty years while he remained in his native Cyprus.

Until the collapse of Polly Peck Nadir had strong links with the British establishment, including members of the Royal family and Margaret Thatcher's government.

A Labour MP called on the Tories to honour a promise made by former prime minister Sir John Major to return donations totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds if the money was "dishonestly obtained and dishonestly donated".

However, in a statement, the party insisted the money had not come from Nadir but from his company.

"The Conservative Party has no record of having received donations from Asil Nadir," the statement said.

"Donations were received from Polly Peck companies more than 22 years ago; these were accepted in good faith from what was then considered to be a leading British company.

"There is no evidence that money donated to the Conservative Party from the Polly Peck group was stolen."

The Serious Fraud Office said today "it is not yet clear" how much of the money Asil Nadir stole from Polly Peck International (PPI) can be recovered.

Case Manager from the SFO Clare Whitaker said a claim will be made for compensation, which it is hoped will be given to the administrators of PPI.

Ms Whitaker said: "A claim will be made for compensation which we hope will be awarded to the administrators of PPI. It's not yet clear how many of the assets will be recoverable."