British Council Loses N44m to Fraudsters


David Cameron, British prime minister

The United Kingdom’s cultural organisation, British Council, has lost at least N43.75 million (£175,000) to fraudsters working in cooperation with some of its Nigerian employees.

Mr. Desmond Omovie, communication manager of the British Council, said two of its exam staff colluded with fraudsters from outside the organisation to falsify invoices for the hire of venues, furniture and cleaning services.

The systematic fraud thrived undetected for seven years and the total bill presented could be as high as N93.75 million (£375,000).

Omovie said the organisation has “strict management procedures in place” to guard against fraud but “the staff colluded to bypass our checks and abused the trust placed on them and therefore were able to perpetrate their fraud without being found out.”

In another case, an exam staff was caught charging fee for services that should have been offered for free and keeping the money for him or herself.

“We are working to reimburse the victims, and will seek to recover any cost from our insurance,” Omovie said.

The fraud is so entrenched that the British Council has budgeted N50 million (£200,000) this year alone to cover loses accrued from it. Though the total cost for the year may not be more than N7.5 million (£30,000).

Omovie said the fraud is at no loss to British taxpayers. “The fraudulent activity took place in our financial commercial exams operation which is separated by a financial firewall from our work funded by our government grant. Therefore no UK taxpayers’ money was lost through this fraud,” he said.

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