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Pounds 1 million fraud alleged

Detectives raided the offices of a large Government-funded training organisation as part of a nationwide investigation into an alleged Pounds 1 million fraud, writes Phil Revell.

Centrex organises training schemes for the motor industry and it is understood that the investigation centres on Government money, channelled through the training and enterprise councils, for national vocational qualifications.

Officials from the Department for Education and Employment joined fraud squad officers who searched the company premises in Leeds, Scotland and Telford.

Centrex is the training arm of the Road Transport Institute Training Board and operates from a purpose-built centre in Shropshire. It provides NVQs ranging from repair and maintenance to customer care.

No arrests were made, though detectives removed documents. The DFEE confirmed that an investigation was in progress, organised by West Mercia fraud squad. Detective inspector John Parkinson said: "The investigation relates to monies provided for NVQ training. No figure could be substantiated at present, but it could be in excess of Pounds 1 million. Centrex gave the police full co-operation during the operation."

Centrex spokesman, Geoff Marshment, said: "In February some problems were identified with the organisation of the accreditation of prior learning process from Centrex's Leeds office." An inquiry was launched with the National Council for Vocational Qualifications, he added.

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