A pharmacist was recruited by a gang to help sell millions of stolen tablets, a court heard today.
Hafiz Noorullah, 43, allegedly allowed his warehouse to be turned into a secret storeroom for the £2.2 million consignment while a buyer was found.
London’s Southwark Crown Court was told the consignment had been en route from the Swiss headquarters of pharmaceutical giant Novartis to a distribution depot in Thatcham, Berkshire, when it was stolen in 2005.
It resurfaced two years later when private detective Andy Hunter spotted its contents for sale on the internet.
Andrew Bird, prosecuting, said he contacted the drugs company and was given permission to make further inquiries.
"Using the false name of David Mason, he posed as a buyer to get to the bottom of what was going on," said Mr Bird.
A series of emails were exchanged and in due course he was offered more than two million tablets.
Jurors were told 1.62 million were Lopressor, which is designed to lower blood pressure, while the remainder consisted of Comtan, used to treat Parkinson’s disease, and Femara, prescribed for certain types of breast cancer.
The investigator was told he could have the lot - really worth £1.5 million - for £2.2million.
"Finally, on October 13 2007, Mr Hunter and a colleague called Mr Kelly, who had a hidden camera, ended up at Wakefield railway station, where they met the defendant," said counsel.
He told the court also there was "seller", Mahmoud Aziz, 52, and a middleman.
"The prosecution says that is of particular importance in that they were selling the products as genuine Novartis and stressing they were being held in a genuine warehouse approved by the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency."
That, he claimed, "explained" Noorullah’s role.
As a pharmacist who had since been struck off, the defendant, head of a company called Ahz Pharmaceuticals Ltd, could offer ideal storage facilities in Meltham, West Yorkshire.
"It lent added respectability ... they weren’t being sold off the back of a lorry or from a pub. They were being sold from an approved warehouse."
Mr Bird told the court Aziz went on to claim the pills had originally been intended for export to Iran, but the deal fell through.
"We say that was false. They had been stolen."
Jurors heard that having seen the tablets packed in more than 180 mostly plastic bucket-type containers, the "pretend purchase negotiations" continued until a follow-up meeting when police were waiting.
Both Noorullah and Aziz, who later skipped bail, were arrested.
The former chemist was eventually interviewed and denied doing anything wrong.
He described meeting two men, one of them Aziz, being "impressed by his credentials" and agreeing to store some goods for them.
Noorullah, of Batley Crescent, Huddersfield, added that although he did not see any paperwork, he never suspected anything amiss.
He denies one count of handling stolen goods "on or before" November 11 2007 and one of breaching his wholesale medicines licence,
The trial, expected to last the rest of the week, was adjourned until today.