A CROOKED businessman from Bradford has been jailed for nearly six years after he organised a nationwide fraud in the meat trade which cost farmers and businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Yakub Moosa Yusuf, 64, of Warley Drive, Bradford Moor, was already barred from being involved in the management of any food business because of previous offences at abattoirs in Shelf and Ossett and an unlawful meat cutting plant in Dewsbury when he committed his latest £375,000 fraud.

That began after his last release from prison when he began buying up beef and then later sheep at auctions, with the meat then being sold on after he had the animals slaughtered elsewhere.

However, Leeds Crown Court heard payments were never made for some of the lots bought. In other cases, cheques were used from closed accounts which then bounced. One farmer from Wales who supplied £90,000 worth of sheep never received a penny.

Yusuf - described as "the most notorious food fraud criminal in the UK" by an investigator who worked on the case - also supplied to Halal retailers meat which was not Halal.


Howard Shaw, prosecuting for the Food Standards Agency and Bradford Council, which handled the initial investigation, said Yusuf operated behind a façade of different business names, some genuine, others fictitious and sometimes using agents but never his own name because of his notoriety.

He told one agent he used in North Yorkshire that his name was Shafiq, which allowed him to “operate under the radar” of the authorities.

On occasions, the orders to meat packing companies were delivered to addresses of genuine firms but were diverted by his contacts before people became aware of what was going on.

He purchased sheep from various auction markets but failed to pay the total required, leaving debts behind him at markets including Hawes, Malton, Bentham, Gisburn, Thirsk and Hexham.

Mr Shaw said meat and carcases were then found being moved in a Sprinter van with a wooden lining and wooden floor which was entirely unsuitable and unhygienic and was also unrefrigerated.

Yusuf was arrested in June 2013 over the breaches but the court heard continued to operate his business using an address in Bingley Street, Brown Royd, Bradford.

The court heard the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Fraud team became involved because of the widespread concern in the meat industry about Yusuf’s activities.

That revealed that the names of genuine companies had been “cloned” by Yusuf to place orders while cheques from closed bank accounts were used to make payments. By the time they “bounced” the deliveries had been made.

Police inquiries revealed the Welsh sheep farmer was not the only loser. Other victims caught by the scam ranged from Cornwall to Scotland, Ireland to Bedfordshire. An accomplice Zulfiqar Alam ran a butcher’s shop in London where he was arrested serving behind the counter.

Yusuf admitted conspiracy to commit fraud, breaching a food prohibition order and three breaches of hygiene regulations. He was jailed for a total of five years 10 months.

Alam, 47, of Humber Way, Slough admitted the conspiracy and was jailed for three years 10 months.

Judge Neil Clark said they had mounted “an orchestrated fraud in the meat industry.”

Yusuf was behind “an entirely criminal business” using his long term knowledge of the meat trade. Hiding behind the names of legitimate businesses whose details he cloned and using cheques from already closed accounts he was able to place orders and sell meat for which he had often not paid.

He said it was important in the meat industry that sales could be traced to their source if there should be any risk to health but because it was being traded illegally in this case and unhygienically such traces could not be made.

“This fraud caused not just the financial risk but a risk to health and public safety.”

Later linking with Alam they also sold to retailers who believed they were buying Halal meat which would meet religious obligations when they did not do so.

He commended those involved in the inquiries for their work into the complicated and extensive professional crime. “They should be proud of their work.”

After the case, Detective Inspector Steve Hudson, of the North East Regional Asset Recovery team, said: “Working with key partners in the Food Standards Agency and Bradford Council we have managed to disrupt a significant fraud in the meat supply industry that targeted a large number of legitimate firms.

“These people posed as honest businessmen – however they were anything but. They defrauded business out of large sums of money – businesses that were just trying to earn an honest income. Yusuf and Alam now have time to consider the consequences of their actions.

“This sort of criminal behaviour will not be tolerated.”

A spokesman for Bradford Council said: “This sentencing is the culmination of a long and complex investigation which involved searching domestic properties to seize documents, computers and mobile phones for examination and analysis.

“Bradford Council environmental health officers used this information to link Bradford resident Yakub Moosa Yusuf to various food business activities around the country despite being the subject of a prohibition order.

“Bradford Council is determined to try and stamp out food crime and illegal food businesses flouting the law by operating without the required standards of inspection, registration and food hygiene.

“Criminals will not be allowed to put the health of the public at risk and we are glad that the police, the Food Standards Agency, and the courts are assisting us in this work.”

Rod Ainsworth Director of Regulatory and Legal Strategy at the Food Standards Agency said: “Food crime endangers all of us and those who think that they can profit from this should know that we are determined to stop them."