Attempt to wind up Islamic school over debts

A CLOTHING company which supplies school uniforms has made a court application to wind up Malek Fahd Islamic School in Sydney because of its alleged failure to pay debts of $286,303.

In its application lodged with the Federal Court, Duboke Pty Ltd, trading as Oz Fashions, alleges Malek Fahd has failed to pay 11 invoices dating from January 18 to February 14, this year.

The Federal Court of Australia will hear the matter next Friday.

Documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission show that Duboke and Malek Fahd's parent company, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, share the same business address at 932 Bourke St, Waterloo.

Duboke made its application on July 19, 11 days before the NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, wrote to the school asking it to repay $9 million in state-government funding.

Mr Piccoli said the school had breached funding requirements which prevent it from operating for profit. He said the school was transferring money to the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils without receiving any services.

The Association of Independent Schools of NSW was also asked to terminate more than $1 million the school receives in National Partnership funding for disadvantaged students, as part of a five-year agreement between state and federal governments.

For its state government funding to be reinstated, Mr Piccoli said the school would need to provide credible evidence that services were being provided in return for the money it transferred to the federation.

Mr Piccoli wrote to the federal Minister for Education, Peter Garrett, saying he had referred the matter to police and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

The federal Department of Education commissioned an independent audit of the school in December to find whether it was spending public funding on the education of students.

The Herald was unable to contact the school principal, Dr Intaj Ali, for comment yesterday.

In a statement on July 31, he disputed Mr Piccoli's findings that the school was operating for profit and said he would challenge his decision.

''The school will take the appropriate steps to have this decision reviewed and is confident that ultimately the correct outcome will be achieved,'' he said. ''Malek Fahd wishes to reassure all parents, students, staff and the wider community that its focus remains on the delivery of quality education for our students and it will continue to work with both the NSW and the federal education departments.''

The Herald also sought comment yesterday from the federation, which declined to comment and from Duboke's solicitor, Marc Ryckmans, who did not return calls.

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