On 17 February 2022, an Australian court sentenced education agent Andre Giminez Barbosa, to six years in jail for the offence of “dealing in money or property worth $1 million or more, intending it will become an instrument of crime” – aka money laundering. Mr Barbosa had earlier pleaded guilty to the offence.

When sentencing Mr Barbosa the court said “the offence is considered serious criminal activity that is at the heart of organised professional crime syndicates, warranting severe punishment, among other things, to reflect general deterrence to a significant degree.” It carries a maximum penalty of 25 years.

Mr Barbosa moved from Brazil to Australia in 2007. In 2009 he began working for his brother as an education agent. In late 2015 became the director of an education agency called Max Study in Brisbane. The education agency’s website – www.maxstudy.com.au – remained live when checked on 20 July 2022:

Screen shot of Max Study home page – 22 July 2022

Mr Barbosa’s money laundering conduct occurred between October 2017 and November 2018. It involved him receiving and disposing of cash and bank transfers from customers into 25 bank accounts that he controlled in Australia and Brazil. Initially he offered the money transfer service to students to transfer relatively small amounts of money to or from Brazil to pay course fees, or for other purposes.

But Barbosa also admitted that several times he was approached by “unknown persons” who wanted to transfer sums of up to $100,000 to Brazil. He would collect the cash from them and then go to casinos in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Then he deposited the cash into his casino accounts, and gambled before withdrawing the balance and transferring the money to its intended recipient. The police were tipped off in August 2018 when casinos alerted them to large cash deposits.

He also travelled to New Zealand 14 times, where he deposited $90,000 at SkyCity casino in Auckland but transferred more than $720,000 back to his Australian accounts.

Mr Barbosa’s fee for his money laundering service was 10% of the value of the transfer. In total he laundered $1.6 million. He admitted that he did not know where the money had come from, and didn’t ask, but suspected that “it cannot be good money; it is probably money from the wrong stuff.

In sentencing Mr Barbosa to six years in jail, the court set a non-parole period of one year.

Still listed as an authorised agent…

Australian educational institutions that enrol international students are required by law to list their authorised education agents on their website. They are also required to ensure that their education agents act ethically, honestly and in the best interests of overseas students, and uphold the reputation of Australia’s international education sector.

Research by AgentBee in May 2022 revealed that Max Study was listed as an authorised education agent on the websites of at least 12 Australian educational institutions. AgentBee contacted each institution by email to alert them to a serious issue with one of their agents. Several institutions subsequently removed the agency from their lists.

At least six institutions continue to list Max Study – and in some cases Mr Barbosa personally – as an authorised education agent. They are listed below.

Australian College of Technology & Business

Money Laundering
Screen shot – 2 August 2022

Business Institute of Australia

Money Luandering
Screen shot – 2 August 2022

Liberty Construction College

Money Laundering
Screen shot – 2 August 2022

Spencer College

Screen shot – 2 August 2022

TAFE Queensland

Money Laundering
Screen shot – 2 August 2022

Wells International College

Screen shot – 2 August 2022

Wells International College also continues to list Quack Study and its former director Jorge Armando Becerra Perea several years after he was jailed for fraud against international students.

Screen shot – 2 August 2022

Are you in control of your education agent network?

Initial and ongoing education agent due diligence is critical to manage risk and to protect your institution and students.

AgentBee’s education agent due diligence solution supports educational institutions to implement best practice education agent due diligence processes.

Educational institutions can use it to:

  • do due diligence on education agents – check new agents before agreeing to work with them, and run regular checks on current agents.
  • protect your brand – detect cases of unauthorised agents using your institution’s name, logo or other IP without permission.

Note for institutions in Australia, NZ and Manitoba – our agent due diligence solution supports compliance with your regulatory obligations regarding agent checking and monitoring.

Note for institutions in the UK – our agent due diligence solution supports compliance  with the guidance on the assessment of new agents, and ongoing review of existing agents set out in the BUILA document, The Good Practice Guide for Providers Using Education Agents.

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Source: SBS, Supreme Court of Queensland