East Lancashire men face jail over extortion attempt

THREE men have been found guilty of attempted extortion to recover a “debt” of £500,000 from an international financial wheeler-dealer known as “the fake sheikh”.

Property developer Mohammed Asjad, the former owner of Burnley's Keirby Hotel, along with Mark Putterill and Ian Williams were told they face a possible prison sentence.

They were cleared of all allegations of violence connected with the offence.

Indian-born Richard Cox, 60, claimed he was confronted by heavily-tattooed Williams who accused him of “having his fingers in the till”. The trial, at the High Court in Edinburgh, heard that Mr Cox boasted of hob-nobbing with Middle-Eastern royalty until his signature on a dud cheque sent him scurrying to Scotland to avoid being thrown into a United Arab Emirates jail.

He is still on Interpol's wanted list, bankrupt, and living in a council house in Methil, Fife.

In happier times, Mr Cox ran Fortune Super Equity Management from the 29th floor of the World Trade Centre in Dubai.

He agreed to help businessman Asjad, of Reedley Road, Burnley, buy into a prestige property development.

After a down-payment and the payment of part of the £76,000 Mr Cox was charging for his services, Asjad wanted to pull out, claiming he was being fobbed off with an inferior plot.

The row followed Mr Cox to the outskirts of Dunfermline, Fife, where he answered a knock on his door on November 8, 2010.

Asjad, 41, had driven up from Lancashire in his silver BMW along with double glazing fitter Putterill, 37, Colne Road, Nelson and demolition worker Williams, 50, of Station Road, Padiham.

Asjad, Putterill and Williams denied assault, robbery and attempted extortion.

A jury found them guilty of attempting to extort about £500,000 but deleted from the charge all allegations of violence.

The three face sentence next month and were allowed to stay on bail.

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