Adam Smith College four may face fraud charges

PROSECUTORS are considering whether to charge four people in connection with alleged fraud at what was formerly one of Scotland’s largest colleges.

Adam Smith College in Kirkcaldy, Fife. Four people may face charges as part of a fraud investigation into the institution. Picture: Jane Barlow
Adam Smith College in Kirkcaldy, Fife. Four people may face charges as part of a fraud investigation into the institution. Picture: Jane Barlow

Police have passed the names of three women and a man to the Crown Office after carrying out inquiries into the running of Adam Smith College in Kirkcaldy, now part of Fife College.

Separate probes by auditors KPMG and the Scottish Government resulted in the institution being ordered to pay back £5.5 million in EU grants in 2013.

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Now the Crown Office is considering a report from the police in which a 50-year-old man and three women aged 44, 49, and 58 were named in connection with incidents which took place at the college between 2008 and 2012.

The government and KPMG investigations had uncovered voluntary severance payments made to two individuals that were not in line with college policy, as well as a lack of documentation around a number of decisions, including the personal use of college facilities and suppliers.

According to a report by accountancy firm Grant Thornton, which was made public last year, KPMG found the college’s financial regulations had not been adhered to when it came to hiring two companies for a marketing strategy review.

KPMG also found evidence the college had submitted claims to grant funding bodies that were “inaccurate, unsupported by evidence and overstated” since at least 2007.

A later investigation by Scottish Government auditors found “significant irregularities”, including the apparent systemic over-claiming of staff time.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “The procurator fiscal has received a report concerning a 50-year-old male and three females aged 44, 49 and 58 in connection with alleged incidents occurring between 29 July 2008 and 14 September 2012. The report remains under the consideration of the procurator fiscal.”

The inquiry into the college’s finances began after an earlier probe by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) into bullying at the institution, which was carried out in 2012.

Former principal Dr Craig Thomson resigned in March 2012, a week after he had been suspended indefinitely when the SFC launched its investigation into allegations of bullying, intimidation and the misuse of funds.

His replacement, Ian Harrington, was suspended as interim principal on the orders of the college board while the investigations into the misuse of funds were carried out. He later left the college.

From 2005, the college’s chancellor was former prime minister Gordon Brown, however, there is nothing to suggest the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath was involved in any wrongdoing.

Last year’s Grant Thornton report stated: “The [Scottish Government] auditors found significant irregularities, including the apparent systemic overclaiming of staff time.

“The Scottish Government has subsequently required the college to repay the full value of EU grants received [£5.5m].”

The report went on to say that the college’s financial position had been “significantly affected” by the requirement to repay the European grants.

Adam Smith merged with Carnegie College in Dunfermline to form Fife College in August last year.

A spokeswoman for the new college said she would not comment while the investigation was ongoing.