Private schools should tell police if parents try to pay fees in

Private schools should be flagging parents who try to pay fees in cash to the police, a National Crime Agency chief has said.Donald Toon, head of economic and cyber crime at the NCA, said that bursars should check  to see if anyone paying a pupil’s school fees appear on sanctions lists, and should be aware of high-risk countries listed by organisations such as Transparency International. “There is an overarching responsibility here to do more,” he said. “We have a number of areas where I am identifying very, very high-risk individuals, suspect individuals, who have children in public schools.”Public schools have previously rejected the implication they were involved in money laundering.  Mike Buchanan, the chief executive of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, has said there was no evidence they were aware of that any school had ever knowingly taken illicit payments, adding that “it is entirely wrong for anyone to suggest so”.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––Mr Toon told the Times Education Supplement magazine that this is not about “kicking people”, and schools are not expected to carry out their own investigations into where money has come from.But carrying out a simple “Google check” to see if a pupil’s parents are known to have criminal links is “hardly onerous” for Bursars, he added. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Last month the security minister warned that private schools could be used to launder “dirty money”, saying that football clubs, estate agents and luxury car dealers were among organisations that should be alert to illicit money and report any suspicions.”We have to make sure that when the [criminals] go out to try to spend their ill-gotten gains, that we all take a role in asking: does this pass the sniff test?” he said.The Independent Schools Council, which represents most of the UK’s private schools, said it was working with the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association and the Home Office to update guidance for schools.Julie Robinson, the ISC’s general secretary, said that “schools fully accept their responsibility to make Suspicious Activity Reports”. “Suspicion is a very, very low threshold,” he said. “We’re not asking anybody to trace the source of money. What we’re really saying is: look, do some background checks.”If the salary of a parent is so low they could not possibly afford the fees legitimately, this should also set alarm bells ringing, Mr Toon said. read more