ONE of Australia's best-known Islamic colleges (AIC) 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 (ACDT) 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)," Detective Inspector Arno Albrecht, from the Commercial Crime Division, said
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 Sheikh Taj al-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 theuse of funds within the federation.
The resulting report alleged AFIC was artificially inflating rents to milk federal and state government funds from the popular Malek Fahd school in western Sydney.
AFIC charged the school $900,000 a year in rent for the 3.62ha property, up from $418,750 in 2000 and $67,500 in 1999.
In March last year the property, zoned general rural, had an unimproved land value recorded by the Bankstown Council of $3 million - leading to an annual average rental return of about $240,000.
AFIC also bills the school for accounting fees, cleaning costs and other charges, which provide two-thirds of AFIC's budget of more than $2 million a year.
The school receives $11 million a year from the federal Government on condition the funds are used only for educational purposes and the school only uses surplus profits for its own activities.
Published: 31st January 2007 | Source: NEWS.com.au
Islamic college leaders guilty of fraud
KATE CAMPBELL, The West Australian March 31, 2010, 3:55 pm
Two Islamic college leaders were this afternoon found guilty of fraudulently claiming millions of dollars from the State and Federal governments to help get the school out of financial trouble.
A District Court jury convicted Australian Islamic College founder Abdallah Saad Magar of 14 out of 15 fraud charges. Principal Aziz Magdi was found guilty of five out of nine fraud charges. A third man, another principal, Mark Brian Debowski, was acquitted of his three fraud charges.
During the three-week trial, the prosecution told the jury that Magar was the "driving force" behind the fraud from 2005 to 2006. The prosecution also told the jury the fraud involved inflating student numbers at the college's three campuses at Dianella, Kewdale and Thornlie in order to obtain extra money in government subsidies and that Magdi and Mr Debowski had knowingly signed off on the claim forms.
The court was told the money was not used for personal gain, but rather went into the college because many of its students were not paying fees. Prosecutor Paul Yovich said during the trial that the college claimed government money for students who never went to the college or had left to go to another school or move overseas.
He said the trial was not about religion in any way.
The three men were charged in June 2008 following a police raid on the college's campuses and headquarters in January 2007.
After the verdicts were handed down today, Mr Yovich said he would be seeking a significant term of imprisonment for Magar.
Magar and Magdi were released on bail and will be sentenced on April 27.
College fraud appeal denied
BELLE TAYLOR, The West Australian May 27, 2011, 12:06 pm
A man who inflated enrolment numbers at the Australian Islamic College to get almost $3 million in Government funding has had his application to appeal against his conviction and sentence refused.
Abdallah Saad Magar appealed to the Supreme Court against his conviction arguing the District Court judge in his fraud trial had misdirected the jury as to the meaning of "intent to defraud" and as to Magar's belief he was entitled to include non-attending but enrolled students in the student numbers.
The Supreme Court rejected both grounds of appeal.
Magar also applied to appeal against his sentence, arguing it was "crushing" and the judge failed to properly apply the totality principal.
Magar is 71 years old and suffers from a number of heath problems. He has been sentenced to three years jail. The appeal was rejected.
Magar started the school in 1986 with 50 students. By 2006 the school had three campuses and 2500 students.
A school policy of not pursuing parents who were not willing or not able to pay the fees led to the school being in serious debt and Magar started to fake enrolment numbers to attract extra funding.