A crooked Bradford solicitor has been jailed for five years for nobbling witnesses in a Crown Court trial to get his client off £310,000 fraud charges.
Criminal solicitor 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 scam involving a fake energy drink illegally using the famous Duracell brand name.
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 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, the son of a Bradford councillor, flying out to see them in Budapest and Dubai.
Iqbal 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 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, the jury had been told.
The 31-year-old, of Ashburnham Grove, Manningham, was convicted in his absence of 13 counts of money laundering and perverting the course of justice after going on the run on the first day of the trial.
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. But the judge stressed said it would be wrong to find him not guilty of the conspiracy to de-fraud.
The jury found Yasar’s brother, talented amateur boxer Zameer Hussain, 28, of Moorland Close, Dewsbury, not guilty of conspiracy defraud, 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 on Yasar Hussain was deferred yesterday, to see if he can be caught. The court has been told it is thought he had fled to Dubai.
Jailing Iqbal, Judge Mark Bury told him: “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 for his role in withdrawing £30,000 from the Halifax bank and going out to pay off witnesses in Dubai.
The court was also 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 an assault conviction in 2001, did not stop him qualifying as a solicitor.
His barrister Simon Csoka, 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. But by his actions he has destroyed his career. His whole career and reputation is finished.”
Zameer Hussain’s barrister told the court: “The idea and orders were issued by Yasar Hussain. He recognizes now, to simply do as he was asked was stupid, immature and moreover a criminal offence. Please have regard for his age and lack of convictions, he is married and has a 21-month old child.
“His friends and family are in court to see his fate. His young child and wife are struggling with his incarceration. The businesses are being run by Zakar Hussain. The business in Preston is struggling. The business in Bradford is being run by Zakar, but that is after his nine-to-five job.”
In the trial the jury heard Yasar Hussain, 31, and Zameer Hussain, 25, had hordes of customers around their stand at the launch of the bogus drink at the World Trade Centre in Dubai.