Former Imam at Jami Mosque in Portsmouth accused of Â£26,000 loan fraud
A FORMER Imam has gone on trial accused of fraudulently keeping more than Â£26,000 of loans from worshippers.
Aminur Rahman was religious leader of Jami Mosque in Southsea when he asked people for 18 loans in 2012 and 2013, jurors at Portsmouth Crown Court heard.
The ‘highly respected’ and ‘trusted’ 30-year-old, who was living in the Victoria Road North mosque at the time, was given cash and bank transfers, said Edward Elton, prosecuting.
Documents seized by police showed he sent £16,500 home to Bangladesh, he added.
Giving evidence, one of the worshippers, Iqbal Miah, said he gave £5,000 to Rahman and then, while Mr Miah was in Mecca, gave his consent for his brother Iraque Miah to give Rahman another £5,000.
Rahman had performed the ritual washing of the brothers’ father’s body ahead of his funeral and had prayed for him after his death.
Under cross-examination Iqbal Miah said: ‘I was in a holy place at the house of Allah, the house of God, and we’re taught if you have the ability to help someone, you should.’
Earlier he said: ‘Because he was an Imam it was very hard for anyone to disrespect him.’
Rahman paid back £5,000 when Iqbal Miah returned but had not got any further cash, the witness said.
Mr Elton said worshippers were asked for the cash, being told by Rahman he needed it as he was getting married, for a madrasa in Bangladesh, to pay teachers at a school, and simply because he needed money urgently.
He also told worshippers cash was needed for an operation for his sister back home, that he had lent money to other people, he was holding money in trust, and he was meeting someone in London and needed cash for a taxi.
Mr Elton said: ‘Those from whom he obtained the money didn’t tell any of the other worshippers about the money they handed over to Mr Rahman.
‘It was only at the end that some of the worshippers spoke to others and pieced it all together and realised in fact that a large sum had loaned money to Mr Rahman.
‘There was a series of meetings where everything came to light.’
Footage played to the jury of a meeting on June 24 in 2013 held in Rahman’s room showed him putting a paper list titled ‘my debt’ in his clerical robe, before worshippers took hold of it.
Iqbal Miah took Rahman’s mobile phone, a computer and a suitcase containing bank transfer payment records.
On June 26 in 2013 at a meeting of mosque elders and Rahman, the defendant said he was trying to get his brother to help pay back the debts, Iqbal Miah said.
He added Rahman was ‘immediately suspended’ but police arrested Iqbal Miah for ‘kidnapping’ Rahman.
‘He said he’d been blackmailed, threatened, stripped of his robes, held against his will and property stolen,’ Mr Elton said.
Officers arrested Mr Miah and his brother Iraque Miah and interviewed Rahman as a vulnerable victim, Mr Elton said.
Police investigated the allegations but later interviewed Rahman as a suspect.
In cross-examination Timothy Shorter put it to Iqbal Miah the June 24 meeting was ‘frightening’ for Rahman and the brothers’ mother had given Rahman the second £5,000 as a gift.
Rahman, now of Lydgait, Haddington, Scotland, denies 18 charges of fraud by abusing his position by seeking loans which he did not intend to repay when due and/or knowing or believing there was a risk he would not repay the loans when due.
COMPLAINANTS, ALLEGED LOANS AND RAHMAN’S REASONS
Abdul Matin: £500 in February 2012; Rahman was getting married.
Iqbal Miah: £5,000 in March to April.
Mofosir Choudhury: £700 in May 2012; paying teachers in Bangladesh. Received £400 back in July 2012.
Mohammed Uddin: £1,000 in October 2012; Rahman’s injured sister’s operation.
Shamin Uddin: £1,000 in January 2013; money needed urgently
Iraque Miah: £5,000 in February 2013.
Abdul Kaher: £1,200 in February 2013; building mosque in Bangladesh. Received £600 back.
Tarek Anwar: £400 and £600 in April 2013; building Islamic school in Bangladesh
Mozir Uddin: £1,500 in April 2013; Rahman had lent out money held in trust.
Nasar Miah: £500 in April/May 2013; Rahman ‘had a problem’.
Mosud Ahmed: £2,000 in April 2013; pay a loan. Received £1,500 back.
Ayaj Ali: £1,000 in June 2013; ‘urgent need’.
Abdul Jalil: two £500 loans in June 2013; ‘urgent need’.
Mojahid Hossain: £1,500 in June 2013; building a mosque in Bangladesh
Shamim Ahed: £1,000 in June 2013; owed another.
Sanawor Khan: £1,000 in June 2013; ‘needed urgently’. Received £740 back the next day.
Mozib Khan: £1,500 in January 2013; ‘owed money by another’.
Adil Ellabib: £500 in June 2013; ‘school in Bangladesh’.