The SFO in conjunction with Gwent Police are investigating the dealings of Luis Michael Training Ltd ("LMT") in a suspected fraud surrounding football-based apprenticeship schemes financed by the Skills Funding Agency. The company was involved in the enrolment, assessment and verification for apprenticeships and NVQ programmes for young people working in community sport, mainly through football clubs and coaching companies. The case was accepted in September 2011 following a referral by Gwent Police.
It is suspected that LMT produced false documentation, including registration papers, progress reviews and coaching examination certificates to falsely show to further education colleges and examining boards that training and apprenticeship placements had been successfully achieved and completed. Through the colleges, LMT received payment for each apprentice enrolled and placed with an employer. The colleges were, in turn, funded through a government scheme overseen by the Skills Funding Agency. It is believed that LMT fraudulently overstated the number of students and apprenticeships that they had placed. The suspected offences include fraudulent trading, false accounting and forgery.
LMT was based in Newport, Gwent but is now defunct. The period being investigated spans 2009 - 2011. It is provisionally estimated that the total suspected fraudulent claims made by LMT to a number of colleges is in excess of £1.6 million.
Update as at 29 May 2012
On 16 May 2012 Serious Fraud Office investigators, together with officers from four police forces (Gwent, South Wales, Greater Manchester and Merseyside) searched four homes and a business property. Three were arrested.
The business property searched was in Southport. The residential properties searched were in Cardiff (where a 51-year old man was arrested), Chepstow (a 52-year old man) Heywood, Manchester (a 29-year old man) and Southport.
All those arrested were interviewed and released without charge on unconditional bail.
The search operation involved over 70 personnel (i.e. 52 SFO investigators and 20 police officers).
If you have any information which you think would help our investigation please complete the following secure questionnaire: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LuisMichaelTraining.