Peterborough meat company sold halal lamb which was neither halal nor lamb, court told

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A meat company sold halal lamb - that was neither halal nor lamb, a jury has been told.

Dutch Bangla Direct Ltd are accused of selling over 100 tonnes of the low-cost white meat to takeaways and shops.

A court heard the con-trick netted the now defunct meat wholesaler company a whopping £250,000 in profit.

Trading Standards discovered the alleged fraud during an investigation into the national horse meat scandal in 2013.

The firm’s boss Mahmudur Rohman, (46), of Rothbart Way, Peterborough has now gone on trial with three other men at Leicester Crown Court.

They are accused of conspiring to defraud customers by making false representations about the type of meat being sold between 2013 and 2014.

Jurors were told food tests discovered turkey DNA in dishes which were supposed to be lamb.

Prosecutor Kevin Barry said: “It’s alleged these four defendants conspired together to commit fraud in relation to the dishonest supply of turkey meat which they pretended was lamb.

“They were supplying shops and restaurants in the East Midlands and beyond.

“The operation was on a grand scale, involving 100 tonnes of turkey.

“The cost of turkey is very much lower (than lamb) and profits generated from deceiving customers was in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“Apart from the main conspiracy, they are accused of further offences linked to the conspiracy to defraud.

“Documents were forged and there was an attempt to pervert the course of justice by getting a witness to lie to the authorities.

“There was also the mis-describing and mis-labelling of food.”

The court heard Rohman was the sole director of the Peterborough-based firm which was “the front or conduit to carry out their fraudulent activity”.

He is on trial along with Kamal Rahman, (54), of Derby Drive, Peterborough, Mohammed Anwarul Hoque, (56), and his 25-year-old son Mohammed Zunaid Hoque both of Uplands Road, Oadby, Leicester.

The jury were told the three men acted as sales and delivery men for Rohman.

Mr Barry, prosecuting on behalf of Trading Standards, added: “Rohman placed substantial orders with European suppliers of turkey meat but sent it out as lamb, sometimes with false labels.

“He would often use the three co-defendants as salesmen and deliverymen.

“Mohammed Anwarul Hoque is Leicester-based, with a history of involvement in the restaurant business, who was the key sales and delivery manager for Dutch Bangla.

“He had considerable face-to-face contact with customers and received thousands of pounds from Dutch Bangla.

“His son, Mr Hoque junior, assisted his father in establishing customers and supplying them with meat, and he lent himself to the fraud, knowingly selling turkey as lamb.

“Kamal Rahman, formerly Kamal Uddin, was a well-established and successful businessman in the East Midlands and a prominent member of the Bangladeshi community.”

The court heard Dutch Bangla Direct Ltd imported 116 tonnes of turkey, mainly from Germany, between October 2012 and November 2014.

Mr Barry told the jury the firm paid between £1 and £1.50 per kilo for the meat which they then sold as lamb for between £4.75 and £7 per kilo.

He added: “The estimated turnover was between £500,000 to £800,000 generated by selling turkey as lamb and more than half of that would have been profit to Dutch Bangla.

“Turkey meat at wholesale level commands much lower prices and by selling turkey as lamb the defendants were able to charge around double of what it was actually worth.

“And they were still able to undercut rivals’ prices for lamb so it looked more attractive to the customer.

“It wasn’t halal certified and the (European) suppliers to Dutch Bangla didn’t claim it to be halal certified.”

The court heard Rahman offered a restaurant owner money to lie to Trading Standards about the source of suspect meat “to corrupt the investigation into the scam.”

The four defendants all deny the conspiracy charge as well as a charge of selling food which was not the substance demanded by the customer and selling food labelled with a false description.

Rahman also denies intending to pervert the course of justice.

Hoque senior denies possessing a false halal certificate for the use of fraud and five counts of Food Safety Act breaches.

Hoque junior and boss Rohman both deny five counts of Food Safety Act breaches.

Rohman also denies forgery, possessing an article for use in fraud, selling food with a false description, failing to have in place adequate systems and procedures to provide food traceability to the authorities and failing to notify the authorities of premises where food production, processing or distribution was taking place.

The trial continues.