A NELSON solicitor accused of paying off witnesses in a £300,000 fake Duracell drink fraud trial told a jury he never paid off anyone.
Solicitor Majed Iqbal, 32, admitted he flew to Dubai two months before a trial of three Bradford brothers, but because of client legal privilege he could not describe the nature of the work.
Iqbal, a qualified higher rights advocate with Pettherbridge Bassara solicitors in Bradford, has gone on trial with Yassar Hussain, 31, and Zameer Hussain, 25, accused of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by paying victims not to appear in court in England.
Five firms based in Dubai, Hong Kong, Hungary and Iran paid a total of £312,000 for exclusive international rights for a new British–based Duracell energy drink that existed only in the form of dummy cans.
Hull Crown Court heard the companies where the victims of a carefully-planned international advanced-fee fraud based from Bradford where they paid for the Duracell drink which had never been authorized.
Bradford bothers Yassar Hussain, 31, Zameer Hussain, of Aburnham Grove, and their cousin Pervez Iqbal, 38, of Dorothy Road, Tilsey, Birmingham, were all accused of launching the fake drink at the World Trade Centre in Dubai in February 2009. All three deny conspiracy to defraud the firms who never got the drink using the famous Duracell name.
Taking the witness box in the now joint trial, Iqbal of Elisabeth Street, Nelson, explained he acted for Yassar Hussain after the Hussains were charged with fraud in September 2011. He admitted he had only just joined the firm after working for five years as a paralegal.
He said his firm was not paid for a year representing Mr Hussain and he meet him socially only once in a Bradford Shisha Bar and did not socialize with him.
He said client privilege meant he could not disclose details of a defendant’s discussions unless they consented. He said that meant many meetings, instructions and events were covered by privilege.
The prosecution claim Majed Iqbal, Yassar Hussain and Zameer Hussain went to Dubai on April 26 when two Dubai victims were bribed not to appear in court having gone on different flights but returning together.
Mr Iqbal said he was in Dubai on April 25. He said: “I was there for litigation and it was in connection with this case. I met with Yassar Hussain. I flew back with him and Zameer. Unfortunately I cannot describe the nature of the litigation because of privilege.”
Yassar Hussain, the man accused of masterminding the scam is not in court having left after the opening and not returned. The jury has been told his absence is not authorized and not to speculate why.
Giving his defence evidence from the witness box Zameer Hussain said he was not part of the Duracell fraud to launch the drink and was not involved in paying of witnesses in Dubai.
Zameer Hussain admitted he went to bank to withdraw £30,000 on the weekend a witness was paid off in Dubai in May. He said: “I only went to Dubai for 36 hours. I was out partying and smoking Shisha. I have pictures which show we were parting and not out bribing people. I had nothing to do with it.”
He said the £30,000 was for paying a plumber for work on his family home in Bradford and improvements to the family’s new Pasha club in Preston. He said he had not spent all of the money. “I am where I am today because of the flight and the £30,000.”