North Cyprus Fantasy

ASIL NADIR AND GECITKALE AIRPORT

Asil Nadir is best known for his meteoric rise to fame as the driving force behind Polly Pack International Ltd, which was floated on the London Stock Exchange. Shares in the company were hotly promoted by several brokers and their rise was spectacular, until the Serious Fraud Office Investigation and raids in 1991 drove the company into liquidation.

He has also been active in the fruit business, and in 1989 bought Del Monte, the canned fruit manufacturer. At this time, he was probably at the zenith of his dazzling business successes.

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What is less well known are his business activities in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, or TRNC. He benefited from the redistribution of land and assets abandoned by Greek Cypriots who fled to the south of the island in 1974 . Several companies that he controlled had significant land holdings in the Guzelyurt district of North Cyprus, and he also operated several fruit canning factories there.

In 2008, there was an opportunity at Gecitkale airport, North Cyprus. The main airport at Ercan had been closed for several years, from 2002 to 2004, in order to undertake extension and refurbishment. During that time all passenger flights had been operated from Gecitkale.

Once Ercan had reopened, Gecitkale became a cargo airport together with a limited military use.

In 2008, the TRNC administration wished to stimulate investment and traffic at Gecitkale and it was proposed that the airport would be leased for 15 years at an annual rent of 1,579,900 euros per annum, increasing by 3% per annum.

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The contract to operate Gecitkale was granted to Cyprus Aviation Services Ltd, which was a UK limited company, registration number 05610383. The company was formed on 2 November 2005, and the Managing Director, Mr James Beveridge went on record and categorically denied that Asil Nadir was either a shadow Director or Shareholder.

Mr Beveridge did however admit that Cyprus Aviation Services Ltd had used Asil Nadir as a consultant and that he had assisted the company in their negotiations with the TRNC administration. James Beveridge stated that the main uses of Gecitkale were the export of fresh produce, the import of fruit from Africa and export to Russia, together with aircraft maintenance.

Although the company had only four UK based shareholders, James Beveridge outlined ambitious investment plans for the airport. In response to queries concerning the source of funds, he said that the project was supported by the Banco Espirito Santo Group of Portugal.

Speculation concerning the involvement of Asil Nadir in Cyprus Aviation Services Ltd was further fuelled by his presence at the signing ceremony for the award of the contract on 7 March 2008. The President of the TRNC, Rauf Denktas was also present.

Cyprus Air Services Ltd went into liquidation on 22 December 2010 based on a Creditors' resolution.


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