This is embarrassing for David Cameron, Nicky Morgan and the Conservative Government in general, isn’t it?

It seems a company running a state-funded academy trust responsible for free schools in London and the Southeast of England is based in a tax haven, according to the so-called “Panama papers”.

Bellevue Education, one of two firms behind Bellevue Place Education Trust (BPET), is part-owned by a company registered to the British Virgin Islands, set up by the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.

The Department for Education and BPET have denied that Bellevue Education has any power over the way the schools are run, but does that really matter?

Shouldn’t the issue be what happens to the public money that is given to this firm to educate our children? What’s it doing in the British Virgin Islands?

A dossier on the matter, compiled by the National Union of Teachers, states:

“It has now emerged that Bellevue Education is part owned via a company registered to the British Virgin Islands which was set up by the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The name of the company is Maplehill Investments (BVI) and its owner is Tarek Obaid, the founder of Anglo-Saudi oil company PetroSaudi. Through a complex ownership structure he is in fact the biggest shareholder in Bellevue Education. The details of Bellevue’s ownership are as follows:

  • Since 2010 Bellevue Education Group has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Bellevue Education International Limited.
  • Bellevue Education International’s shares are held by three parties. The company’s most recent annual return shows that Bellevue founder Mark Malley owns 1,000 shares but the majority of the company is owned by two Hong Kong registered subsidiaries: Plato One Ltd (18,576 shares) and Plato Two Ltd (29,096 shares).1
  • The anti-corruption group the Sarawak Report has revealed that both Plato One and Plato Two are owned by Maplehill Property Limited and Patrick Mahony, who is also a director of Bellevue Education Group and Bellevue Education International (see below).

The Sarawak Report alleges that Bellevue chairman Marwan Naja set up this complex ownership structure in 2010 for tax avoidance purposes.

From there it gets complicated. Download the full dossier here.

So now we know that not only has David Cameron (and who knows how many other MPs?) enjoyed the benefits of shares in tax-avoiding firms, but so do the shareholders in academy schools.

And here’s the important part:

Nicky Morgan wants all English schools to become academies.

So, logically, we can only come to one conclusion:

David Cameron, Nicky Morgan and the Conservative Government want the new – private – owners of all English schools to be able to turn them into tax avoidance schemes.
Now we’ve found that out, what are we going to do?

They’ll press ahead with it if we let them.

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