A SOLICITOR has been accused of attempting to ‘pay off’ a series of witnesses in an alleged £300,000 energy drink scam.
Lawyer Majed Iqbal is said to have jetted out to Dubai as part of attempts to buy the silence of key witnesses in a trial revolving around a non-existent energy drink bearing the famous ‘Duracell’ name.
Iqbal, 32, from Nelson, is said to have been acting on behalf of three Bradford brothers, who were negotiating with companies in Dubai, Hong Kong, Hungary and Iran over ‘exclusive’ rights to the bogus beverage.
Hull Crown Court heard that the brothers, who run a bar and takeaways empire in West Yorkshire, had secured £312,000 in ‘advance fees’ for the fake Duracell drink.
Shortly before the trio - Yassar, Zakar and Zameer Hussain - were due to stand trial, police were tipped off that four out of five of their key witnesses were reluctant to attend court because they had been paid off.
Prosecutor Mark McKone said police were waiting for Iqbal when he returned to Manchester Airport with his client, Yassar Hussain.
Iqbal’s luggage contained memory sticks showing a video clip of him handing over money in a Dubai hotel room to an Iranian victim.
Mr McKone said Iqbal’s laptop, also seized, contained evidence in the fraud case, and money exchange slips were also recovered.
It is alleged that he also travelled to Dubai to pay off a Hong Kong victim, using fake names, 17 days before the Hussains were due to stand trial.
Iqbal, of Elizabeth Street, Nelson, Yassar Hussain, 31, and Zakar Hussain, 28, both of Ashburnham Grove, Bradford, each deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
“Three defendants are charged with perverting the course of justice. In more every-day language it is nobbling witnesses in a fraud case,” said Mr McKone.
Yassar and Zakar Hussain, Zameer Hussain, 28, of Moorland Close, Dewsbury, and Pervez Iqbal, 38, of Dorothy Road, Birmingham, have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to defraud over the ‘Duracell’ scam.
The court heard that the fake drink was marketed at an international trade fair in Dubai, using dummy cans and false business cards bearing the details of Proctor & Gamble, the legitmiate holders of the ‘Duracell’ name.
Mr McKone said: “There was a female receptionist. Yassar Hussain handed out business cards. Customers were offered exclusive distribution to certain parts of the world.
“The offer made the companies think they could make a lot of money. Obviously the defendants had no right to give anyone sole rights to the Duracell brand name and the agreements were worthless.”
The court heard that the Hussains set up a bank account, to channel the proceeds from the alleged scam, and brandished a fake letter from Proctor & Gamble, telling victims they had the worldwide rights to the bogus drink.
Once the defendants banked cash from their victims, it is alleged, they closed down a website, used to market the enterprise, and the telephone lines they had used.