A man from Lancashire who threatened to drive a Pakistani oil and gas giant out of business if they did not pay him nearly £8m has been jailed.
Nusrat Hussain, 38, of Worston Place, Blackburn, told Dewan Petroleum he had influence with Pakistani politicians.
In reality he had no influence and no money was handed over.
Hussain was jailed for 18 months at Preston Crown Court after admitting making unwarranted demands for money with menaces.
Hussain admitted demanding the money by making mobile phone calls and sending text messages - between 2 February and 11 May 2009.
'Persistent and explicit'
Kevin Donnelly, prosecuting, said the threats became more persistent and explicit over the three months.
"He said he and his associates would have no option but to use their significant influence against Dewan and ultimately that would result in the company being driven into liquidation," Mr Donnelly said.
"He later indicated there would be a bail-out package but it would cost one billion Pakistani rupees [£8m]."
In a text message, told one representative he would be "destroyed" if he did not comply with the threats.
The company made inquiries which found there was no substance to the threats and contacted Lancashire police.
Hussain, who was born in Pakistan and moved to Blackburn 12 years ago, was arrested and admitted he contacted Dewan in the name of Abdullah Rahman.
He said he was doing it on behalf of two men - one a childhood friend who he owed £2,500 to and suggested he take part in the plot to pay back the money.
Both are thought to be at large in Pakistan.
Ahmed Nadim, defending, said he was told by the men they were connected to the Pakistani Prime Minister and President.
"If he did not co-operate then the defendant and his family were in jeopardy," he added.
Judge Stuart Baker, sentencing, said he thought it was "unlikely" the firm would have parted with one billion rupees after some phone calls and text messages.
He said Hussain was not capable of carrying out the threats.
But he told him: "I have to bear in mind that blackmail is an ugly and sinister offence which is not difficult to commit.
"This type of pernicious conduct, which is easy to commit and may cause significant harm and upset, must result in a significant and real punishment."