It is estimated that BD150,000 (£250,000.00) may have been embezzled by an employee of the British Council in Bahrain. The employee is alleged to have diverted Chevening Scholarship funds from deserving Bahraini students both to unentitled Bahrainis abroad and to his own pocket. The employee is not named, but said to be 40 years old, and to have been dismissed in 2004 after 24 years with the British Council (so everybody who has had to do with the British Council in Bahrain can work it out). The employee, who denies all charges, is also alleged to have forged documents issued by the British Ambassador – and whoever did that must surely have honed their expertise over a number of years. If we are to take that age, that date and those years of employment literally, the accused would have started work with the British Council at the age of 14 (which we accept is an unlikely age for an educational advisor), so the alleged scam probably has a lot of history. This story features in yesterday’s edition of the Gulf Daily News.
In today’s edition of the GDN the British Embassy have launched a damage limitation exercise, with the announcement that an investigation is under way, and with reassurances that “that funds are being carefully spent and continuously monitored”. The British taxpayer who pays for the Chevening scholarships will no doubt be comforted by those words. As for the British Council and British Embassy managers who approved the nominations and signed the cheques which went astray, who oversaw the department and who failed to pick up the scam at audit, probably over many years, we may anticipate the same verdict as given by the magistrate in Albert and the Lion.