Reuters International

Turkish-Cypriot tycoon Asil Nadir gestures as he arrives at the Old Bailey court in this file photograph taken February 10, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

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By Daren Butler

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish Cypriot businessman Asil Nadir, who was jailed in Britain in 2012 for stealing millions from his business empire, has been transferred to Turkey to serve the rest of his sentence and arrived at a prison near Istanbul overnight.

Nadir was flown from London to Istanbul on Thursday evening after British authorities accepted his request to serve the rest of his sentence in Turkey.

He arrived on a Turkish Airlines plane and was escorted to a police station at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport, the private news agency Dogan reported. Television footage showed him sitting in the back of a car as it arrived at the gates of Silivri prison, west of Istanbul.

The 74-year-old was jailed for 10 years in 2012 for stealing 29 million pounds from Polly Peck, an ailing textiles company which he transformed into one of the most successful British firms of the 1980s.

Its later collapse was one of Britain's biggest corporate failures and was an embarrassment for the Conservative Party, which accepted big donations from Nadir in the 1980s.

Commenting on the decision to send Nadir to Turkey, a Justice Ministry spokeswoman in Britain said that foreign criminals should be properly punished but not at the expense of British taxpayers.

"This government is committed to removing foreign criminals to their own countries," she said. "Arrangements were made with the Turkish government for his removal as part of our prisoner transfer agreement."

The move took place after Nadir repaid 2 million pounds he owed the legal aid agency and 5 million pounds in compensation he paid earlier.

Polly Peck collapsed in 1990 when British officials began a fraud investigation. Nadir was arrested but after being released on bail fled the country in a private plane to live in northern Cyprus, where he was beyond the reach of British law.

The self-declared Turkish Cypriot state set up after the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus is not recognised internationally.

Nadir returned to London in 2010 to clear his name after 17 years on the run, but he was found guilty of 10 out of 13 charges of theft.

(Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan in London, Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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