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MUSLIM SCHOOL DIRECTOR CONVICTED OF FRAUD FOR SCAMMING GOVERNMENT

The former director of a Muslim school in Perth has been sentenced to at least two years and nine months in jail for fraudulently inflating student numbers to gain government funding.

Anwar Sayed was found guilty by a jury in October on two counts of fraud.

The 51-year-old falsified student numbers at the Muslim Ladies College of Australia in Kenwick to obtain a portion of government grants worth $1.125 million.

The school received about $164,000 from the state government and about $961,000 from the federal government in funding based on student numbers.

Sayed, from Canningvale, was the director of Muslim Link Australia, which ran the school.

The court was told he signed declarations in 2006-07 that more than 180 students were enrolled – 80-100 more than the actual number.

Sayed’s trial came to prominence earlier this year when one of the witnesses asked if she could keep her face covered by wearing a niqab, or full burqa, while giving evidence.

District Court judge Shauna Deane ruled the woman had to remove her niqab, but she ordered men to leave the court while the woman gave her evidence.

Judge Deane told the court today Sayed had ”signed off on applications knowing full well the student numbers were inflated”.

She accepted he did not do it for purely personal gain but because the school was struggling financially, and he wanted it to survive ”for the benefit of the Muslim community”.

She said the sentences had to act as a general deterrent for such crimes in which a significant amount of taxpayers’ money was fraudulently received.

Sayed had abused a position of trust with the state and federal governments in which he was relied upon to provide ”honest and reliable” information on student numbers, Judge Dean said.

She sentenced Sayed to three years’ jail on one count of gaining a benefit through fraud from the federal government.

After two years of that sentence, he will be eligible for a $5000 good behaviour bond.

But he must first serve at least nine months of an 18-month jail term imposed for a second count of defrauding the state government.

That means he will serve a minimum of two years and nine months in prison.

Outside court a brother of Sayed said his conviction and sentence would be appealed, alleging jury members had been interfered with.

AAP

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