Trio deny £500,000 extortion and death threats over failed United Arab Emirates deal

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A BURNLEY hotel boss and two of his associates allegedly barged into the home of a man, threatened to kill him and attacked him with a knuckle-duster as part of a £500,000 extortion bid, a court has heard.

Richard Cox (59) claims that Mohammed Asjad (40), whose company RMA Developments owns the Keirby Hotel, Ian Williams (49) and Mark Putterill (36) forced their way into his property in Dunfermline, Scotland, on November 8th 2010.

The trial, at the High Court in Edinburgh, heard the Indian citizen say he was pushed from his front door entrance into his hallway and ordered to kneel before Mr Asjad.

He was then ordered to get onto his computer to transfer hundreds of thousands of pounds of cash into Asjad’s bank account.

When Mr Cox said he could not do that, he heard one of Asjad’s co-accused ask whether he could use a set of garden shears to cut the businessman’s fingers off.

The international finance expert was then allegedly beaten up by one of the accused men with a knuckle-duster.

The three men came to Mr Cox’s house to recover cash seemingly owed to Asjad after a failed property deal in the United Arab Emirates.

They left his property with his Indian passport, £120 in Scottish banknotes and a written undertaking Mr Cox would repay Asjad within three weeks.

Mr Cox told the court: “I was stunned. It happened so quickly.”

Asjad, of Reedley Road, Burnley, Putterill, of Colne Road, Nelson, and Ian Williams, of Station Road, Padiham, deny attempted extortion and robbing Mr Cox of £120.

The prosecution alleges Mr Cox was pushed, repeatedly hit on the head with the knuckle-duster, shown a knife and a pair of scissors and faced threats his attackers would kill him unless he paid them.

Prosecutors claim Mr Cox was forced to sign a contract agreeing to pay the sum – roughly half-a-million pounds – within three weeks.

His attackers also allegedly said they would kill him if he went to the police.

Mr Cox had earlier told the trial he had been asked by Mohammed Asjad in 2008 to help secure a share of a multi-million pound property development in the United Arab Emirates.

He was running a company called Super Equity Management which had interests in oil, gas and power generation. However, the deal fell through because of the world wide economic downturn. Mr Cox said Asjad wanted to get out of his investment.

He had also wanted the money he had already put into the deal returned back to his account.

But Mr Cox said Asjad had been warned the cash he had sunk into the investment was non-returnable.

Giving evidence, Mr Cox said he was at home when he heard banging on his door.

“I was stunned. It happened so quickly. I was pushed back. I was ordered to kneel.”

Mr Cox said when he was on his knees, Asjad appeared in front of him and said: “Do you remember me? I have invested a lot of money trying to find you, trying to locate you.”

It also emerged the authorities in the United Arab Emirates suspect Mr Cox of writing a cheque for one million dollars which bounced – a crime in the UAE which can carry a jail sentence.

The businessman is suspected of writing the cheque before he left the Middle Eastern country in February 2010.

Mr Cox told advocate depute Mr Stephen O’Rourke the cheque was supposed to cover two years worth of rent for his business premises.

After the cheque allegedly bounced, Mr Cox said he was told to leave the UAE by his firm’s chairman.

But he told the prosecuting advocate he believed he had not committed any crime and could return to the small nation state at any time.

Mr O’Rourke said that was not the case and authorities there wanted him in connection with the alleged offence.

(Proceeding)