[This is funny. As Jewish Britain immerses itself in Black Africans. I hope the Whites of Britain can escape! Jan]
United Kingdom universities are turning a blind eye to Nigerian political elites laundering dirty money through their fees, according to a paper published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from West Africa expert and non-resident scholar, Matthew Page.
Commissioned by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, West African Elites’ Spending on UK Schools and Universities: A closer look, flags up the “unexplained wealth” used by Nigerian politicians and public officials to pay British university and boarding school fees.
The amounts spent are way above the salary levels of these prominent Nigerians, categorised as ‘politically exposed persons’ or ‘PEPs’ in anti-money laundering system jargon.
Such people are supposed to be exposed to special checks by banks and other financial institutions, although anti-money laundering legislation usually does not insist that such assessments are undertaken by educational bodies.
In any case, Page concluded, there is plenty of evidence for universities to question if they voluntarily decided to check how some Nigerian students’ fees are being paid. They “dwarf” official salaries, the report notes, pointing out that a Nigerian cabinet minister takes home roughly £16,000 (US$22,200).
“Across the board there’s absolutely no way that Nigerian public officials can legitimately afford … the fees, so questions need to be asked,” Page told University World News in an exclusive interview.
“There are red flags,” Page underlined, pointing not only to the salary gap but also third parties commonly paying for fees, a potential indicator of bribery.
Page complained that university admissions staff are too focused on ability to pay and not the source of funding and are unlikely to question the discrepancy.
Just 24 out of 478,437 suspicious activity reports filed to Britain’s National Crime Agency in the 2018-19 fiscal year came from the UK education sector.
Yet the report estimates that the value of questionable unexplained payments to UK universities and boarding schools from West Africa (also including Ghana) exceeds £30 million (US$42 million) annually, most of it from Nigeria.
Page told us that universities “try and maintain plausible deniability”, arguing that they are not banks and have a responsibility to educate students.
But the paper says that while universities are not covered by the UK’s anti-money laundering regulations, they have “basic anti-money laundering responsibilities under the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act” to report valid concerns about potentially receiving dirty money.
Page said: “No solution is perfect…”, but added that universities needed to be “reducing risks”.
“It’s about going from having no filter to having some awareness,” he said.
Universities UK ‘needs oversight’
As for government’s response, he proposed Universities UK should be added to a list of professional bodies subject to oversight by the Financial Conduct Authority’s Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision, and henceforth tasked with offering guidance on best practice with anti-money laundering screening in higher education.
“It’s a fairly minimalistic first step approach” that applies to lawyers, accountants and antique dealers via their professional associations, Page said. He stressed that universities already screen students anyway as part of the application process “so they get to know their applicants”.
In Nigeria, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, executive director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre and head of Transparency International (Nigeria), told University World News that the report was “actually confirming what Transparency International (Nigeria) and many civil society groups in Nigeria have been talking about regarding public official corruption and diversion of public taxpayers’ funds for personal use”.
He argued that there “has not been any effort from Nigerians who claim to be fighting corruption to block leakages, to ensure that public officials are not using public funds for personal gains”.
Last year, Nigeria ranked 149th out of 180 nations for corruption, according to Transparency International, an anti-corruption advocacy group. The International Monetary Fund estimates that if corruption is left unchecked in Nigeria, the country could lose up to 37% of its GDP to graft by 2030.
And that can make the problem of using illicit money to send children overseas for their education even worse, said Musa, as less money will be available to invest in higher education within Nigeria, damaging local standards. The government has “allowed all the public schools to dilapidate,” he claimed.
Lack of resources has undermined staff relations, which can deteriorate into strikes, such as the nine-month-long Nigerian lecturer stoppage that was suspended in December 2020.
Professor Afis Oladosu, dean of the arts faculty at the University of Ibadan, north-east of Lagos, said: “Year in, year out, allocation to the education sector is constantly on a downward slide. The reason we are having this challenge is because education is no more on the front burner” among government officials and ministers.
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, the country’s main anti-money laundering agency, did not respond to requests for comments on the report from University World News.
Canada and US also affected
Page said the problem was far from restricted to Nigeria-UK student flows. “Educational institutions in Canada, the United States and other countries that recruit elite students from West Africa are exposing themselves to the same corruption risks as their British counterparts,” said the report, particularly Canada which has lower tuition fees and a new Nigeria Student Express visa scheme.
The researcher claimed that the UK would not lose “competitive advantage” by becoming “a little more careful about identifying a small number of students with anti-money laundering risks”.
“Best practice tends to spread,” Page said, and “if you market yourself as a premium destination, then corruption scandals and having dirty money is bad for your reputation.”
He said universities “need to develop an anti-money laundering radar and get their hackles up” when facing certain conditions and submit suspicious activity reports, which are analysed by financial intelligence units – the global model agencies for fighting money laundering.
The report further recommends that Nigeria should set up a specialised unit tasked with investigating educational sector graft and revise its Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act to ensure that public officials declare the amount and source of tuition fees they have paid.
Universities UK declined to comment on the report, with a spokesperson telling University World News that “having spoken to our colleagues in Universities UK International, we have not had any direct engagement either with HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] or universities on this specific issue.”