The Sarawak Report, in its second paragraph states; “Using a web of off-shore vehicles, he ( Tarek Obaid) and fellow director Patrick Mahony secretly invested some of the millions they obtained in illegal backhanders from Malaysia’s Development fund in a private education company that bought up some of the UK’s poshest private schools.”
Later in the report it became clear that’s it’s not just the poshest schools that are at risk.
When a tweet by @GreenEdPolicy, appeared on my feed, suggesting the #PanamaPapers may have implications for the funding of education in the UK I was intrigued.
I set off on an a trail which led me to, the Local Schools Network, The Sunday Times, Bellevue Place Education Trust, Michael Gove, the Sarawak Report, #PanamaPapers and allegations with funding implicaations for the UK Academy Trust programme.
Bellevue Place Education Trust (BPET) operate a number of state free schools. On its website it says,
“Bellevue Place Education Trust (BPET) is a multi academy sponsor and we sponsor seven primary Free Schools across London and the South-East. Bellevue Place’s core purpose and responsibility is to establish, maintain and manage state funded Free Schools.”
The Sunday Times reported on 10th April that: “Bellevue was at the centre of a controversy in 2013 over a site in Islington, north London. The council wanted the site for housing, but it was turned down by Michael Gove, then the education secretary, who supported BPET in its bid to use the site for a free school.” Source: Sunday Times 10th April 2016
Back in January 2014, a blog on the Local School Network by David Barry, said that,
“Bellevue have asked that the vacant site and building be obtained for them by the Minister; the Minister has power under the Academies act to appropriate it without paying any compensation to Islington Council.
They (Islington Council) could expect to get a bit over three million pounds from a Housing Association for the site – money required for repairs to Islington Schools.”
“So if the Free School goes ahead on this basis there will be no three million for Islington schools for repairs, no extra social housing to relieve overcrowding, and the loss of other housing related Government grants some of which would be spent on education.”
Source:Local Schools Network
So Michael Gove handed over a site which cost Islington £3 million. Standard practice for the academy and free school programmes.
“One of the clients of the off-shore incorporations firm Mossack Fonseca, exposed in the so-called Panama Papers this week, was PetroSaudi’s Tarek Obaid.”
Obaid has been implicated in the Malaysian government fund scandal. The Sarawak Report goes on:
“Using a web of off-shore vehicles, he and fellow director Patrick Mahony secretly invested some of the millions they obtained in illegal backhanders from Malaysia’s Development fund in a private education company that bought up some of the UK’s poshest private schools.”
The Sarawak Report continues:
“Documents acquired by Sarawak Report reveal that the two men are the secret funders behind the self proclaimed entrepreneur, Marwan Naja, who acts as Chairman of Bellevue Education, a fast growing business, which has acquired 12 lucrative schools since 2010.”
The Sarawak Report then concludes with:
“The irony will not be lost on these communities that in this case Malaysia’s development cash has been invested in further milking the parents of privileged western children, by the tax evading ‘entrepreneurs’, who stole it together with crony political operators, including Jho Low.”
Jho Low is another individual allegedly implicated in the Malaysian scandal.
The report states that documents which the Sarawak Report has, have been “passed on to British crime agencies”, and “clearly show the covert methods used by Mahony and Obaid to privately invest stolen millions in a promising education business in the UK”.
So there you have it.
Did Michael Gove hand over land, owned by Islington Council, to Bellevue, and did that land end up in the hands of money launders in an offshore account?
There is no suggestion that anyone in this country has done anything illegal.
But surely it exposes the folly of an Education Policy which can end up with children in the UK being educated in a school funded by the proceeds of from a Malaysian government fund. Assisted by a series of offshore companies, and involving the British Virgin Islands, it would appear that money may have found it’s way into the Governments much lauded Academy Trust programme.
The matter needs serious investigation, and since the Sarawak Report have hand files over to British Crime Investigators, one would expect them to conduct a thorough investigation.
So if you connect all those stories together that’s what you get. Something that shows how the #PanamaPapers creep into everyday life. It’s not just about David Cameron’s Tax Return. It goes much deeper.
It’s not the politics of envy. The politics of envy is just a narrative to put everyone off the the real issue, corruption and money laundering.
Expect the “politics of envy” to be used so nothing changes. And all those with money, in secret accounts, can carry on as if nothing has happened. But we know it has happened.
If nothing changes, criminality will creep into all aspects of your everyday life. All the way down to the school that your children attend. Think about that. Think about how it happened. And do you care?
David Cameron’s Tax Return is interesting but the media will shunt everyone off into a dead-end and we finish up missing what’s really going on. An economy funded by stolen money from the poorest in the world. What else in this privatised economy is using dodgy money? And do you care?
Demand changes. Dodgy Dave could lead the call for investigation and reform.
Unless more is done to expose the secrecy which operates in offshore accounts whole areas of everyday life will be contaminated. They probably already are.
Better still, shut down the whole operation so that this parasitic behaviour will no longer be legal.
Alternatively we could do nothing and regard the money laundering and criminality as collateral damage, the price WE pay, so rich people can evade tax?
Concentrate on Cameron and you’ve lost the battle.
Now who’s going to investigate this lot thoroughly? And do you care?