UK Urges Private Schools to Help Crackdown on Money Laundering

Private schools in the UK have been urged to make sure wealthy par­ents are not using laun­dered mon­ey to pay for their children’s edu­ca­tion, The Financial Timesreport­ed.

UK pri­vate schools are known for attract­ing the young peo­ple from the glob­al elite, but the National Crime Agency (NCA) on Friday asked them to file more reports flag­ging fees sus­pect­ed of being paid with dirty money.

The aver­age fee in such schools is around US$ 22,500 a year per child and those insti­tu­tions can be used by the cor­rupt around the globe for laun­der­ing their mon­ey and their rep­u­ta­tion, the paper said.

School and uni­ver­si­ty fees have for a long time been a glar­ing loop­hole in the UK’s anti-mon­ey laun­der­ing sys­tem — fees can amount to hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds, there are few if any checks and an increas­ing num­ber of the stu­dents come from high-risk coun­tries,” Robert Barrington, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of Transparency International UK, told the paper.

One of Britain’s most pres­ti­gious and expen­sive schools, Millfield, was already used in 2011 for mon­ey laun­der­ing, accord­ing to The Guardian. A shell com­pa­ny, Valemont Properties, was used to pay a more than $ 17,000 tuition fee for a Russian pupil. Valemont was men­tioned in an OCCRP inves­ti­ga­tion into how influ­en­cia Russians shift­ed their dirty mon­ey abroad.

The Millfield school said that the pay­ment, made from a UK account, aroused no sus­pi­cions at the time, but that the school has “reviewed and strength­ened” its mon­ey laun­der­ing pro­ce­dures since then.

The num­ber of non-res­i­dent Russians attend­ing Britain’s pri­vate schools has tripled in a decade, ris­ing from 800 to more than 2,300 in 2016, The Guardian report­ed. But the data from the Independent Schools Council’s annu­al cen­sus only includes pupils whose par­ents live out­side the UK. Counting those resid­ing in the UK adds almost anoth­er 1,000 chil­dren, mak­ing Russians the sec­ond largest nation­al group attend­ing British pri­vate schools.

The illic­it wealth of cor­rupt elites is being inves­ti­gat­ed by the National Crime Agency (NCA) under new pow­ers known as unex­plained wealth orders (UWOs). The orders force those sus­pect­ed of seri­ous crime to explain where they got their assets, includ­ing prop­er­ties worth more than £50,000.

The NCA esti­mates that $127 bil­lion is a “sig­nif­i­cant under­es­ti­mate” of the mon­ey cur­rent­ly being laun­dered in London.

UK Urges Private Schools to Help Crackdown on Money Laundering

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