A CROOKED lawyer from Nelson faces up to five years behind bars for nobbling witnesses in a crown court trial to get his client off £310,000 fraud charges.
Majed Iqbal, 32, abused his position of trust as a lawyer by flying around the world to pay off witnesses for firms who had been ripped off by a Duracell energy drink scam.
But he was caught when he flew back to Manchester Airport days before the trial with a video clip of him negotiating bribes on a memory stick. He had copies of retraction statements on his laptop.
Iqbal had even tried to claim legal aid for his foreign journeys. He attempted to cover up the scam claiming client legal privilege meant the police could not look at his computer.
Four victims were systematically paid £133,000 and signed retraction statements to drop their police complaints. It coincided with Iqbal and his client Yasar Hussain, 31, flying out to see them.
Iqbal of Elizabeth Street, Nelson, was found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice after a seven-week trial at Hull Crown Court.
Yasar Hussain, 31, of Ashburnham Grove, Bradford, was convicted of 13 counts of money laundering and perverting the course of justice.
He was also found guilty of conspiracy to defraud by setting up the scam, but the judge ruled he could not take that verdict because it had not been proved he conspired with anyone else.
The jury found Hussain’s brother Zameer Hussain, 28, of Moorland Close, Dewsbury, not guilty of conspiracy to de-fraud, but guilty to perverting the course of justice by withdrawing £30,000 from a bank and flying out to Dubai to pay off witnesses.
Iqbal, a father-of-two, represented Bradford nightclub entrepreneur Hussain who took a string of rich-middle-eastern businessmen for a ride selling the international rights to market Duracell energy drinks to five firms based in Dubai, Hong Kong, Hungary and Iran. It only existed in the form of 8,000 dummy cans.
The court heard the Duracell project became the talk of Bradford, as the brothers who run Pasha Shisha club, in Bradford and Preston, began showing the cans to friends.
The con came together by launching the drink at the three-day food trade fair in the World Trade Centre in Dubai in Feburary 2009. They had one of the largest stands with free cans.
Yasar Hussain and Zameer Hussain signed in as employees of Duracell. They even wore badges as international sales director and sales assistant. Customers in Dubai, Hong Kong, Hungary and Iran paid a total of £312,000 for exclusive international rights to sell the drink which only existed as dummy cans. Yasar Hussain set up a Nat West Bank account in the Duracell name.
Money began to be transferred. Around £300,000 was quickly withdrawn between May and August in 14 cheques in untraceable cash including one for £75,000.
By August 2009 when the family were £300,000 richer the website and phone lines were closed down. Angry customers were fobbed off with tales of a Duracell staffing crisis. One flew to England only to find an empty office in Leeds. They will be sentenced at a later date.