Page last updated at 13:00 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 14:00 UK

Fake degree accountant struck off

By Nigel Morris
BBC London Investigations Producer

A chartered accountant exposed by BBC London for his role in an international bogus education scam has been struck off by his professional body.

Dr Jeffrey Wooller, the former honorary chancellor of the fake Irish International University (IIU), faced three charges of bringing himself and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) into disrepute.

The tribunal was told by Kate Gallafent, counsel representing the Institute, that evidence revealed Dr Wooller had "involved himself deliberately in the singularly shabby business of offering bogus degrees".

The tribunal found all the charges proved and Dr Wooller, who decided not to attend his own disciplinary tribunal, was fined £20,000 and £19,533 in legal costs.

'Extremely serious'

Tribunal chairman Timothy Harris said: "We consider this case to be extremely serious... representing a most blatant breach of the byelaws."

He said that Dr Wooller had "allowed the public to be misled" and that his conduct had been "wholly unacceptable for a chartered accountant".

BBC London's undercover film was shown to the tribunal panel and was a key part of the case against Dr Wooller.

The investigation led to Oxford where the bogus Irish International University hired out the Divinity School, next to the Bodleian Library, to hand out the worthless degrees.

The BBC then tracked down Dr Wooller to his second home in Monaco where we confronted him with our allegations.

He confessed that the university was "dodgy" but refused to resign his post.

'Absolutely worthless'

The tribunal heard that the Institute's own investigator Nigel Howell met Dr Wooller in London last year, four days before he was due to hand out more degrees to students from the Irish University Business School (IUBS) and the International University Business School.

He admitted that the degrees from both of these bodies - which he solely owned - were "absolutely worthless in the UK".

Dr Wooler said that the (IUBS) was a "virtual reality organisation".

During our undercover filming Dr Wooller said he "dished out" certificates to students in Malaysia because they appreciated seeing a white face.

He later explained that students from Nigeria were "not bothered who issues degrees... it does not matter to them. So long as it says degree, that's it".

Dr Wooller always maintained that he was just a figurehead in the (IIU) and had no involvement in the day-to-day academic side of the business.

There are currently no criminal proceedings against Dr Wooller.

He now has 28 days to appeal the decision.

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