Back in 2013, Wali Yaqub and Tajamul Khan ran the Oasis Lounge, a shisha bar at Great Jackson Street, Hulme, which repeatedly flouted fire safety regulations.
Dark, smoky and overcrowded, the premises had no working fire alarm and while customers smoked water pipes over smouldering charcoal, barrels of diesel, bags of rubbish and cardboard boxes blocked the only way out.
Yakub and Khan repeatedly ignored warnings to rectify the problems which were in direct contravention of Fire Safety Regulations and were both jailed following a prosecution brought by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
Now the authorities have gone after the thousands they made from the business while putting customers’ lives at risk.
Yaqub, 37, formerly of Mauldeth Road, Burnage was last year ordered to pay £138,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act and £9,000 costs. He is currently serving 27 months behind bars for the breaches of fire safety regulations and skipping bail.
Now his business partner Khan, 28, of Nebo Street, Bolton, who served 14 months for fire safety breaches, has been ordered to pay £171,000 and £6,000 in costs. They both face more jail-time if they fail to pay.
Khan fought to cling on to his assets in a Manchester Crown Court hearing this week, claiming the Oasis Lounge was not as busy has had been made out, and that claims he was involved in the management were merely to impress women.
But the court heard substantial cash deposits had passed through his accounts, and Judge Michael Leeming ruled against him. Judge Leeming said he was satisfied Khan was not just a manager, but ‘a partner in a thriving operation’.
After being found guilty at trial back in 2015, Tajamul Khan’s business partner Wali Yakub, fled the country for Marrakech.
He then arranged for the court to be sent a fake doctor’s letter claiming he had been diagnosed with Ebola in Pakistan.
The claim led to the doctor fraudulently named in the letter being contacted by the World Health Organisation, amid fears of an outbreak on the subcontinent.
Peter O’Reilly, County Fire Officer, said: “This has been a landmark case for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and should send a clear message to those who put the public at risk that crime does not pay.
“It has taken over four years to finalise this case because Yaqub and Khan repeatedly failed to accept responsibility for their actions and continued with a web of deceit. GMFRS will support legitimate businesses to meet their obligations but will continue to pursue those who gamble with the lives of others to line their own pockets.”