No Honour Among Pirates

Four pirate CD traders were convicted of running a £5 million illegal operation in London after workers at a manufacturing plant in the Czech Republic helped identify them.

In January 2008, two of the defendants (Wasim Mir and Ayaz Qureshi) pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the music industry. The two remaining defendants (Farhat Nissa and Mohammed Shaikh) were later found guilty as charged.

The court heard that Nissa’s company, SFH, one of the largest independent brokers, was commissioned by Wasim Mir, a market trader, and others to import the CDs from the Czech Republic. Mir admitted supplying market stalls and shops throughout the Southeast.

The operation involved the manufacture and distribution of unlicensed urban music compilations. Some of these became brands in their own right with the "In The Club" series running for more than 15 editions.

The BPI made a test purchase of a CD that was dispatched to IFPI’s Forensic facility, where investigators were able to pinpoint the source of the discs and trace them back to a manufacturing plant in the Czech Republic, whose operators helped identify the four U.K. traders.

Waseem Mir was arrested and his storage facilities raided by the police. During that raid 25,000 infringing discs were recovered and again samples were sent off for forensic examination by IFPI.

BPI estimates suggest that more than 400,000 box sets containing between two and five CDs, some with DVDs, were sold for about £12 a title and imported during the fraud.

The conspirators now face an application for their assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.