Tes is reporting that Britain’s most senior financial policeman has urged private schools to carry out more background checks on pupils’ families – even if it’s just a quick “Google check”.
Donald Toon, head of economic and cyber crime at the National Crime Agency (NCA), said criminals were targeting private schools across the board and bursars needed to be more aware of the risks.
“There is an overarching responsibility here to do more,” he told Tes. “We have a number of areas where I am identifying very, very high-risk individuals, suspect individuals, who have children in public schools.”
Independent school leaders have reacted angrily to previous comments from Mr Toon and economic crime minister Ben Wallace that accused them of profiting from the proceeds of organised crime.
But in an interview with Tes, Mr Toon said “this is not about kicking people” or expecting schools to carry out investigations.
“We’re not asking anybody to trace the source of money,” he added. “What we’re really saying is: look, do some background checks.”
These include being aware of high-risk countries listed by organisations such as Transparency International, checking sanctions lists or flagging any attempts to pay fees in cash.
Last year it was reported that Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate, a private boarding school near York, received almost £90,000 in 2014 from a fund used to launder money from Azerbaijan’s ruling elite. There is no suggestion that the school was aware of the origin of the money.
The Independent Schools Council (ISC) said it was working with the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association (ISBA) and the Home Office to update guidance for schools.
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