Business tycoon Asil Nadir stole just under £150 million from his business empire for himself, his family and friends, the Old Bailey has heard.
The money went through a complex series of transactions including being transferred to a bank he owned in Northern Cyprus, it was alleged.
Nadir was said to have stolen the money from Polly Peck International between 1987 and 1990.
He was due to stand trial in 1993, but in May that year "fled the country back to Northern Cyprus, thus leaving the jurisdiction only to return in August 2010", said Philip Shears QC, prosecuting.
Nadir, 70, of Mayfair, central London, denies 13 sample counts alleging he stole £34 million. The case before Mr Justice Holroyde is due to last at least four months.
The jury was told that Nadir had abused his position as chairman and chief executive of PPI to steal from the company.
Mr Shears said: "He was a man who wielded very considerable power over its operations and management, and that of its subsidiaries, particularly in Northern Cyprus.
"He abused that power and helped himself to tens of millions of pounds of PPI's money.
"As a director of PPI and a signatory on the account, he was entitled to instruct PPI's bankers to transfer funds.
"However, he would have no authority to transfer or authorise funds from PPI for his own personal benefit or that of his family or associates."