White collar crime pays

26 Aug

Turkish Cypriot businessman Asil Nadir received a ten year jail sentence for stealing almost £29m from the Polly Peck company.* Nicolas Robinson, a 23 year old student, was jailed for six months for stealing water worth £3.50 from the Lidl supermarket during the 2011 London riots.** By my reckoning, had Nicholas stolen goods worth £29m, he would have been jailed for over 4 million years!
There’s a serious point here: the disparity in sentencing between so-called ‘white collar’ crime and other crimes. There are, of course, differences between these two crimes (and the criminals). Nicolas Robinson acted on the spur of the moment amidst the London riots. He had no previous convictions, pleaded guilty, and was in full-time education. Asil Nadir, on the other hand, has a long history of organizing business in what the Financial Times called an ‘autocratic’ manner. *** He fled to Northern Cyprus on his private jet in 1993 when the Serious Fraud Office was assembling a case against him, and stayed there for 17 years. Northern Cyprus has no extradition treaty with the UK. The case hinged on 13 sample cases of fraud. The Guardian reported that the true sum involved in the fraud is closer to a staggering £380m.**** Nadir was feted by the City of London as an entrepreneurial genius and became a large donor to the Conservative Party.
Nicolas Robinson must wish he was wearing a shirt, collar and tie.

* http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19352531
** http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8695988/London-riots-Lidl-water-thief-jailed-for-six-months.html
*** http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0ac0469e-e0a0-11e1-8d0f-00144feab49a.html#axzz24fu1jVgB
**** http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/aug/22/asil-nadir-fraud-380m-sfo

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