Three convicted of trying to extort £500,000

The High Court in Edinburgh
The High Court in Edinburgh
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THREE men have been convicted of trying to extort almost £500,000 from a former international businessman.

Richard Cox, 60, was confronted at his home in a Fife village by an angry ex-client and two accomplices in an attempt to force more than three million Arab Emirate dirhams from him, a court heard.

Mohammed Asjad, 41, Mark Putterill, 37, and Ian Williams, 50, had denied the offence but were found guilty by a jury after a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh. They will be sentenced next month.

Mr Cox ran a private equity company in the United Arab Emirates and claimed to have been a business partner of Sheikh Nasser, the president’s brother who died in a helicopter crash over the Arabian Gulf in 2008.

He had a home in Crossford, near Dunfermline, and was known in the local cricket club where he was a member as “the fake sheikh” because of his bragging about contacts with royalty in UAE.

The court heard that Mr Cox had suffered a downturn in fortunes in recent years and now lived in a council house in Methil, Fife.

However, in 2008 he had acted as a “facilitator” for Asjad, of Burnley, Lancashire, in the purchase of a plot of land in a multi-million pound development in Ras al-Khaimah. Asjad made a downpayment but later, as the economy crashed, he wanted his money back, along with a fee he had paid Mr Cox.

On the morning of 8 November, 2010, Mr Cox answered the door of his home in Crossford to find Asjad, who said: “Remember me?” He was with Putterill, of Nelson, and Williams, of Burnley, both Lancashire.

Mr Cox told the court that Asjad had told him: “I spent a lot of money looking for you have got to pay me back all the money I gave you.”

It had been alleged that Mr Cox was attacked with a knuckleduster and that he signed a contract under threat of death to pay 3,187,618 Arab Emirate dirhams (about £500,000) to Asjad. However, the jury deleted those elements from the indictment and convicted the three men of going to the house intending to put Mr Cox in a state of fear of physical injury and attempting to extort the money from him.