University places are increasingly scarce in Britain. In theory, these places are awarded to the most deserving students, however, as we will see in this report, more often than not, it isn’t the case. The Algerian Consulate in London, in particular, stands out for its repeated and ongoing frauds.
The consulate of Algeria in London serves another purpose other than its usual administrative purpose, it serves also as a concierge service for the sons and daughters of key members of the Algerian regime, as our investigation was able to confirm.
Ali Bekkouche, a retired army general sent his daughter to study in the U.K, Lancaster University to be specific. According to several employees, former and current, the Consulate would get regular phone calls from the general in Algeria to have senior diplomats issue fake absence notes to Lancaster University. The notes usually falsely state that the student could not attend classes, because she was in Algeria taking care of “urgent family matters“. For U.K universities, who are not familiar with such practices, these official notes appear legitimate.
An employee who spoke under the condition of anonymity told the Algiers Herald “she would call at least once a week to be put through to a diplomat, in charge of students. (…) I got used to her calls so much that I would recognize her voice every time she called. One time, I questioned the diplomat about why she was calling on such a regular basis. The diplomat looked through the glass door to see if no one else was listening and told me ‘her dad is a General, she doesn’t take university seriously, it’s been years like that, we issue her with official notes so that she can remain in the U.K legally and remain enrolled at the university“.
Additionally, the daughter of the general would get VIP service at the consulate, unlike the regular customers – there was no queuing for her. The daughter of the general equally benefited from the services of the consul’s private driver on a number of occasions.
“The diplomats know fully well that if they are to obtain a promotion in the future they are required to cater to the whims of senior military and government officials back home”, our correspondent in London is told by a current employee.
Lancaster University was not available for comment when the Algiers Herald enquired.
The fake baccalaureates
To integrate universities in the E.U and North America, it is generally required to have a baccalaureate with a decent pass mark. However, there are no checks and controls on the students’ real intellectual abilities upon applying to most universities; a baccalaureate issued by Algeria is considered acceptable. According to a source at the Ministry of Education in Algiers, S.S, the sons and daughters of members of the regime “don’t go abroad to study“, he tells our reporter, “They go abroad to settle and have fun“.
He added “it is common practice for high school principals to accept bribes from rich parents to alter the baccalaureate results. For example, if you have obtained a 10 out of 20, you can pay a principal 500 euros or so and he would make it a 16 out of 20. Then if you know someone at the Ministry of Higher Education, you can get a scholarship which will allow you to study abroad“.
Hookers, drugs, and alcohol
His statements are confirmed to some extent when we witness the lifestyle of the sons and daughters of Algerian dignitaries in London, Paris, and Marbella. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, apartments worth several million pounds, cocaine at £150 a gram, without forgetting the nights at strip clubs and the spend dedicated to hiring high-class prostitutes. We’ve calculated that one of these fake students, spends on average over £10,000 per month, taxpayer-funded with most of the amount spent on the nightlife. We’ll dive deeper into this topic in a future report as it deserves an article in its own right.
‘Biggie’ (nickname) is a drug dealer in Mayfair, an exclusive neighborhood in London. He works as part of a larger Algero-Moroccan gang that operates in the area, he accepts to meet us and arrives in a brand new Mercedes-Benz C class, on another occasion he arrives in an Audi A6, he explains “you know to avoid police detection we never stay put, the customer hops in the car, we do our thing, and we drop him off somewhere else. We change cars every month or so to avoid raising suspicions. These cars are our company cars, so to speak“.
He continues “I have a lot of Algerian customers, you know we Moroccans and Algerians are brothers. (…) Some of them live in these exclusive areas, they love cocaine, it’s their drug of choice. I won’t name my clients, but most of them can spend £600 on a Friday night just for cocaine, then they buy also a bit of cannabis, MDMA, before usually heading to night clubs or house parties. We have different prices for cocaine, the cheapest is £80 per gram, the better ones go for £180 a gram, they tend to opt for the better quality“.
To the question of who are these Algerians who can afford to spend as much, he tells our reporter “I’ve become friends with some of them, so I am not going to disclose exact names, but I can tell you, the majority of them are here as foreign students, they go to Westminster University, Regent’s University, and other colleges across town, many of them are close to the Algerian government, I hope you can keep this conversation between us“.
To be able to enjoy their stay without having to study, these students regularly resort to paid tutors who write their assignments and essays. James, whose name we altered as per his request, is an ACCA qualified accountant of Jamaican origins. To increase his income he has built a private tutoring business targeted at wealthy foreign students. For him to write your business-related dissertation, it would cost you over £3,000, for a simple 1,500 words essay, he charges £300.
“I do have some Algerian students who pay for their assignments, they’re regular customers. One of them told me he was the son of an important politician in Algeria. It isn’t only Algerians though, there are Chinese, Emiratis, Saudis, Bahrainis, Russians, to name but a few…“.
He continues “I can write for PhD students, Master’s degree students, if they have the money I am here to help“.
The instrumentalization of the Serious Fraud Office for political ends
The Serious Fraud Office is a governmental department in the U.K, usually tasked with investigating serious fraud, as its name suggests. The department can issue Unexplained Wealth Orders against individuals who they suspect cannot explain the origin of their assets. Such an order would essentially consist of freezing the assets of an individual pending further investigating or in some cases pending prosecution.
However, it is clear from historical data, that such orders appear to be used exclusively against Russian nationals and nationals of other nations deemed hostile to Britain. When the Algiers Herald approached the Serious Fraud Office to bring to their attention the extravagant, unexplained, spending of the Saadani family in Britain for instance, the SFO refused to comment, even after our reporter had mentioned that the daughter’s employment at the Consulate of Algeria was likely intended to renew her visa since she proceeded to leave the job after only two months of work, a blatant immigration fraud. We also raised the question of a potential real estate asset in Britain, a flat in Aldgate worth more than 1 million pounds, to which they also refused to respond.