A man labelled “Britain’s most notorious food criminal” is again behind bars.
Yakub Moosa Yusuf had already served time for running an unlawful meat-cutting plant in Kirklees, where he dipped food in bleach to make it appear clean before selling it to shops and business across Dewsbury and Huddersfield.
Now the crooked businessman has been jailed again after he organised a nationwide fraud in the meat trade which cost farmers and businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Leeds Crown Court heard Yusuf was already barred from being involved in the management of any food business because of previous offences at abattoirs and an unlawful meat cutting plant in Dewsbury, called Direct Halal Meat and Poultry Ltd, when he committed his latest £375,000 fraud.
He bought up beef and sheep at auctions with the meat then being sold on after he had them slaughtered elsewhere.
However the court heard payments were never made for some of the lots bought while in other cases cheques bounced. One farmer from Wales who supplied £90,000 worth of sheep never received a penny for them.
He also supplied to Halal retailers meat which was not Halal.
Howard Shaw prosecuting for the Food Standards Agency, 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 his name was Shafiq that allowed him to “operate under the radar” of the authorities.
Mr Shaw said meat and carcases were 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 on bail. 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. 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, 64, of Warley Drive, Bradford 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” and added: “This fraud caused not just the financial risk but a risk to health and public safety.”
One investigator from the Food Standards Agency said: “Yakub Moosa Yusuf is the most notorious food crime offender in the UK. He deserves this sentence.”
Det Insp Steve Hudson of the North East Regional Asset Recovery team said: “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.”