A Small Heath travel firm offering Hajj and Umrah trips and its director have been ordered to pay £71,417 after admitting it had misled customers, at Birmingham Crown Court today (19 July 2017)
Birmingham City Council successfully prosecuted Holy Makkah Tours Limited following an investigation by Trading Standards officers, assisted by City of London Police, as part of a national project to tackle Hajj and Umrah fraud in 2014.
Holy Makkah Tours Limited – which is based at 548A Coventry Road, Small Heath and was also trading from 34 Green Street, Newham, London at the time – and its director Mohammed Suba Ibn Nozir, 44, of Wyatt Road, Forest Gate, London, pleaded guilty to seven offences each on 8 August 2016. Manager Shamshu Miah, 54, of Monica Road, Small Heath, pleaded guilty to one offence under the legislation.
The company was fined £11,000 and ordered to pay £5,600 in costs. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, Holy Makkah Tours Limited was made a nominal order for £1, with all payments to be made within 3 months.
Nozir was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay £5,600 in costs, and was disqualified for two years from holding any directorship. Under Proceeds of Crime Act he was ordered to pay £31,217.15 with all payments to be made within 3 months.
Miah was handed a £1,000 fine and ordered to pay £1,500 towards costs.
Holy Makkah Tours Limited did not hold an ATOL licence, which is a legal requirement for travel firms selling package holidays.
Councillor Barbara Dring, Chair of the city council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “This case highlights the need for people booking any holiday to be aware that internet-based travel firms have to adhere to the same codes of practice as those based on the High Street.
“It is also a great example of how working closely with our local authority partners has helped us bring a successful prosecution.
“Trading Standards is here to protect Hajj pilgrims from being ripped off by unscrupulous travel providers. We know it’s important to take action to protect pilgrims and to ensure there is a level playing field for all businesses.”
Holy Makkah Tours Limited traded as a business with another travel firm – Islam Freedom Limited.
Islam Freedom Limited – based at 34 Green Street, Newham, London – and director Shah Shahin Chowdhury, 45, of London Road, Barking, in Essex, were found guilty of five offences each, during the same trial in August 2016.
Both Islam Freedom Limited and its director Shah Shahin Chowdhury are due to be sentenced on 17 August 2017.
Holy Makkah Tours Limited is still trading.