Inside the Issues

Fraudster must be caught

2003

The ITF is demanding the prosecution of a world class criminal who has robbed millions from poor people, with the help of national governments.

The ITF is calling on governments to prosecute an international fraudster who has disappeared after conning millions of dollars from poor people who thought they were getting cruise ship jobs. Meanwhile seafarers’ unions are on the look out for any signs that the conman may still be operating.

Despite constant warnings from the ITF, many nations harboured or co-operated with Pakistani citizen Muhammad Ali Pasha, whose United Arab Emirates-based company Al Najat Marine Shipping conned over 120,000 desperate job seekers into paying for non-existent work.

Now the ITF believes he may have set up a new racket under a different name.

Al Najat extracted fees of US$58 upwards on the promise of well paid, no experience necessary jobs on western cruise ships, targeting applicants in India, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Syria, Tanzania, Vietnam and almost certainly other countries. The ITF can confirm that at least in the cases of Kenya and Morocco, the key to the success of the fraud was the active participation of those countries’ employment ministries in promoting the scheme.

Only Vietnam responded to an urgent ITF briefing and pulled the plug on Al Najat at a relatively early stage. Muhammad Ali Pasha, who claimed to have dual British/Pakistani nationality, has now disappeared with the money.

The victims of the con parted with up to US$1600 in “medical examination fees”, illegal charges made by Al Najat’s local agents, and passport charges levied by their governments. Many people lost everything in the scam, including their houses. In some cases, entire families sank all their money into sponsoring one person to work in jobs that promised to pay each month what in Kenya, for example, was double the average annual national wage. These were jobs offered by a company whose bona fides were apparently guaranteed by the government.

Morocco has set up a commission to look at ways of compensating its victims of the scam, while Jordan has said it will recompense the 700 applicants there who paid Al Najat for non-existent jobs.

The ITF has handed over all its information on Al Najat to the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and the British Serious Fraud Office. ITF General Secretary David Cockroft, who was the first person publicly to label the Al Najat scheme an illegal scam, stated:

"We always suspected that if the UAE wouldn't act and the affected countries refused to bring in Interpol and risk having their involvement tested, then Ali Pasha would one day take the money and run"

"Despite the constant threat of legal action against us, we have had no choice but to step in when governments and their police forces failed to act to protect thousands of the world’s poorest people."

Sadly, for every potential applicant the ITF was able to warn off, there were others who, understandably, trusted their government’s apparent guarantees of Al Najat’s good faith. Those governments have now been urged to begin real investigations into Muhammad Ali Pasha and how they came to support him.

At the time of writing the ITF had made a second approach to the UAE government, which, after harbouring Al Najat for so long, could be well placed to track Ali Pasha’s movements and the movements of the money he stole from over 100,000 people.

Of all the governments that either helped or allowed Al Najat to operate not one had mobilised Interpol at this time. The ITF continued to press for national police forces to do so as the most effective means of utilising the international police service.

David Cockroft urged governments to take belated action, saying: “There is still time to arrest this man and recover some of the money he has taken from so many of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Alert to readers
Pasha may be continuing to operate, perhaps using a new company front, or a different name. Please contact the ITF if you hear of any suspicious new recruitment activity, or of anyone using the names Muhammad Ali Pasha, SA Mohammed Ali Pasha, or Sajjad Akbar.