A CROOKED solicitor from Pendle who worked on the Harold Shipman inquiry has been jailed for five years 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 two of his five 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 re-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 in Budapest and Dubai.
Iqbal, of Elizabeth Street, Nelson, was found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the court of justice after a seven-week trial at Hull Crown Court.
The father-of-two represented Bradford nightclub entrepreneur Yasar 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.
Yasar Hussain boasted at becoming the talk of Bradford as the inventors of the Duracell energy drink to rival Red Bull. He has fled and believed to be on the family yacht in Dubai while his brother and solicitor are behind bars as international conmen.
Yasar Hussain from Bradford was convicted of 13 counts of money laundering and perverting the course of justice. The jury found Yasar’s brother Zameer Hussain (28) from Dewsbury not guilty of conspiracy 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.
Sentencing at Hull Crown Court after adjourning to see if Yasar Hussain could be caught, Judge Mark Bury told Iqbal: “This offence was carried out in your capacity as a solicitor with a duty to uphold the law. You have breached that trust in a determined and cynical way. You tried to obtain public funds for two of those visits. This was not a one-off offence.
“There were five separate visits. In my judgment, a substantial custodial sentence is deserved to mark the severity of the offence and uphold the confidence the public have in the legal profession and finally to deter others who are thinking of doing the same.”
Judge Bury jailed Zameer Hussain for 18 months.
The court was told Majed Iqbal had committed a string of offences before he became a solicitor. These included one theft, three for obtaining property by deception with 12 other offences of obtaining property by using a stolen credit card number to buy household goods. The offences, including as assault conviction in 2001, did not stop him qualifying as a solicitor.
Majed Iqbal’s barrister Simon Chokar QC told the court: “It is always difficult to understand how a solicitor such as Majed Iqbal finds himself in this position. He had a rocky start with these convictions. He qualified the hard way. It is an appalling tragedy for him and his family that he finds himself in this position today. His whole career and reputation is finished.”
In the trial the jury heard Yasar Hussain and Zameer Hussain had hordes of customers around their stand at the drink’s bogus launch in the World Trade Centre, Dubai.
They invested in an elaborate plan, wore fine suits and talked money, before deals were clinched in luxury restaurants and hotel rooms. By day they played the long-fraud game.
They had no need for worry as the family had a takeaway, two Shisha clubs, drinks firm and accident claims business. But they were always on the look-out to make more money.
The mastermind, Yasar Hussain has gone on the run from the family’s Victorian home in Bradford, after hearing the overwhelming evidence against him. The councillor’s son faked sickness and slipped police at court on the first day of his trial. Like an illusionist he has never been seen again and is thought to be on his family-owned yacht in Dubai where he is a regular visitor.
Barrister Mark McKone said: “Whenever a retraction statement was made abroad, Yasar Hussain and Majed Iqbal were in the country where the retraction statement was made; every single time. Three dates in Dubai and one in Hungary. The defendants exploited their victims’ wish to get money back telling them there was no Duracell company anymore and the deal not to go to court was the only way to get their money back.”
Judge Buy has ordered police to make inquires to see if Yasar Hussain is in Dubai.