North Cyprus is not recognised as a separate, independent state by any country, other than Turkey. The Greek Republic of Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, but the Greek Cypriots voted against the UN plan to unite the island. In consequence, there is no extradition arrangement in place between North Cyprus and the UK.
This has led North Cyprus to become a safe haven for people who are fugitives from UK justice. The most celebrated case is that of Asil Nadir, who was the Chief Executive of the British conglomerate Polly Peck. The firm collapsed in 1990 and Mr Nadir was not available for trial as he had absconded to North Cyprus. Mr Nadir has rehabilitated himself in North Cyprus, and owns several reputable and successful companies.
Some of the other fugitives from the UK have a more colourful history in North Cyprus.
Mr Gary Robb is the former owner of the Blue Monkey, a Teeside nightclub / rave joint. He was arrested by the Cleveland police in 1996 after some 200 police in full riot gear carried out a drugs raid on the premises. He was charged with conspiracy to supply Ecstasy and amphetamines.
His brother, James Robb, was convicted and given a 10 year sentence after a raid on the Colosseum club in Stockton. Apparently the brothers either owned or controlled 5 clubs in the North East of England. He had apparently faced Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) charges on several occasions during the course of his career.
Mr Gary Robb disappeared while on bail and subsequently surfaced in North Cyprus. He claims to be innocent of all charges and hopes to return to the UK, at some future date, in order to clear his name.
Cleveland police have recently confirmed that the warrant for Mr Robb remains on file and that he will be arrested should he return to the UK.
Mr Robb formed a Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) company, Aga Developments Ltd, and commenced several construction projects in the TRNC.
The main development is at Arapkoy, to the east of Kyrenia and off the mountain road to Nicosia and Ercan airport. On this site, some 246 properties remain under construction. The site is called Amaranta Valley, and the sad tale is often referred to as the Aga Saga.
Work at Arapkoy was halted in September 2005 when Mr Robb disappeared from the TRNC. On this occasion, he resurfaced in Thailand. He stated that he had hoped to start another property company in Thailand and help with re-construction after the Tsunami disaster.
During his stay in Thailand he apparently remarried. His wife is an Ethiopian born lady, and they now have several children.
His honeymoon stay in Thailand was curtailed when he attempted to transfer some GBP1.5 million from a UK bank account. It is no surprise that the UK authorities had frozen the funds as he remains a fugitive from UK justice. Things got worse when the TRNC authorities froze his North Cyprus bank accounts, although it is unclear as to the value of funds held in these accounts.
The TRNC government also revoked Mr Robb’s TRNC citizenship, based on the allegation that his claim to have performed military service in the UK was false. This means that he was eligible for army service in TRNC prior to being granted citizenship. His plant and equipment was apparently seized and impounded by TRNC customs officials due to paperwork and tax irregularities.
The Greek Republic of Cyprus issued an international arrest warrant based on the charge that he had built on Greek land in the TRNC.
Mr Robb then negotiated a deal with the TRNC government whereby he would be able to return to North Cyprus, and stay out of jail, provided he completed the Amaranta Valley project. As it was rumoured that the UK police were seeking to extradite him from Thailand, a return to TRNC seemed the better option.
Upon his return to North Cyprus, Amaranta Valley was not the only property problem facing him. In fairness to Mr Robb, it would seem that several of his colleagues and business associates lacked loyalty and sought to profit from his misfortune. The precise details of several business arrangements have not been published.
In each of his developments, Mr Robb has been accused of double selling. That is, selling the same property to several UK customers and taking deposits and stage payments off each.
In early January 2008, an agreement was reached between Mr Robb and some 200 UK customers of Amaranta Valley. Mr Robb agreed to undertake a survey of the site and to demolish those properties which had decayed beyond repair due to the weather and landslip. The remaining properties would be completed in some 12 months provided the customers paid the remaining monies due to Aga Developments Ltd under their original contracts of sale. It was stressed that the customers would only need to pay any outstanding funds which were due.
Mr Robb’s health has deteriorated and he has apparently suffered a mild heart attack. He does appear to be recovering, to the intense relief of his customers. However, he remains, as ever, upbeat. He has reportedly stated that he now wishes to acquire a further 850 donums (283 acres) of adjoining land and build a total of 1,000 houses at Amaranta Valley.