Wales politics

Police talking to Welsh government over college 'fraud'

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Media captionKazi Shajahan was covertly filmed saying students could "make any certificate" and they would not be challenged

Police are talking to the Welsh government about allegations of fraud at a college after an undercover investigation by BBC Wales.

A reporter, posing as a student, was offered a loan at a private college in Cardiff using fake qualifications.

It prompted the suspension of payments to West London Vocational Training College and to its Cardiff students.

The Welsh government has stressed that the college is the only English-based private college operating in Wales.

On Wednesday, it emerged concerns over the regulation of private colleges had been raised by an assembly committee in October 2014.

Darren Millar, chairman of the assembly's public accounts committee, has called for a police investigation and the auditor general to look into the allegations, following the Week in Week Out programme broadcast on Tuesday.

Det Chf Insp Karen Thomas of South Wales Police's economic crime unit said the force was in discussions with the Welsh government's counter-fraud department relating to allegations raised.

Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies said the Welsh government "must satisfy the public that they have done everything in their power to ensure that the risk of widespread abuse has been minimised".

Plaid Cymru education spokesman Simon Thomas said there was cause to believe the rules and the level of scrutiny of colleges was not sufficient.

Liberal Democrat education spokesman Aled Roberts said: "These allegations are deeply worrying and the Welsh Labour government needs to ensure that there is no chance of such allegations arising elsewhere."

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Media captionCollege principal Dr Manoj Kumar has been removed from his position

Questioned about the matter in the Senedd on Tuesday, Mr Lewis told AMs: "There would be no system of regulation, or it would be difficult to contrive a system of regulation, that could be 100% proof against any planned or deliberate fraud."

Changes to the way such colleges are regulated were coming into force in January, he said.

He added: "It would be difficult to see that this particular problem could have spread much wider; this is the only English-based private provider currently operating in Wales."

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Media captionWelsh Tory leader blamed the 'checks and balances' in the system and said the Welsh government had to address it

Week In Week Out also discovered the college's principal, Dr Manoj Kumar, faked his Cambridge University PhD and teaching certificates.

Kazi Shajahan, who was recruiting students to the college, offered to sell coursework needed for qualifications.

The college owner, Bharat Bageja, denied knowing of any wrongdoing in the recruitment of students to his college.

He said Mr Shajahan was never employed as a recruitment director and the principal had been removed from his position.

This followed the broadcast of the Week in Week programme on Tuesday night.

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