Friday, February 02, 2007

Police raid leading Islamic college in Australia

Paige Taylor:

ONE of Australia's best-known Islamic colleges has been raided by police and government investigators on suspicion its three campuses have rorted the student subsidies payable for non-government schools.

The Australian Islamic College's campuses at Kewdale in Perth's south and Dianella and Thornlie in the city's north were raided at 9am yesterday by 28 fraud squad officers and 10 investigators from the federal Department of Education, Science and Training investigations unit.

The officers took three truck- loads of computers and documents from the college campuses and the college's headquarters in the southern Perth suburb of Booragoon. The raids followed an investigation of several months into the school's use of student subsidised funding programs by the Commercial Crime Division.

The federal Government gave the college $13.3 million in funding in 2006.

It is possible for schools and colleges to make fraudulent subsidy claims by "double counting" students, "ghosting" students or inflating rent payments.

"You can do all sorts of things hypothetically (to rort the subsidy system)," said Detective Inspector Arno Albrecht, from the Commercial Crime Division

He said that as far as he was aware, the Major Fraud Squad had not been involved in a raid on a school in the state before.

The Australian Islamic College has 2000 students from kindergarten through to Year 12 across its three campuses, which are staffed by 250 teachers.

The founder and current director and administrator of the college, Abdallah Magar, refused to comment on the raids.

Mr Magar founded the school in 1986. "The outcome of this environment would be full academic achievement, protection from social diseases coupled with success in the hereafter by being saved from the hellfire," he said.

In November last year, it was one of 35 signatories to a letter accusing the media of hysteria and sensationalism in reports on Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali's comments likening scantily clad women to uncovered meat.

An internal investigator last year accused Australia's peak Islamic council of funding its activities with public money siphoned off from a non-profit Muslim school.

The Sydney-based accounting firm Worrells was commissioned to prepare a report on the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils' finances after members raised concerns about the use of funds within the federation.

Australia: Islamic College Raided By Police


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