Chapell takes UCCI reins as Syed runs

| 18/07/2008

George Town (CNS): In the wake of reports that the
former president of the University College of the Cayman Islands
(UCCI) has disappeared again from his last known position in Canada,
the Board of Governors said in a statement yesterday that the college
Dean, Dr Brian Chapell, had been appointed Acting President of UCCI
since the beginning of June. The board said it had the utmost
confidence in Dr Chapell and no doubt that he would continue to make a
significant and positive contribution, but that a Selection Committee
of the board was seeking a new president.

“Clearly this is a major undertaking of great importance to the
university, and it may take some time before a permanent appointment
is made,” the board said.

Following the disappearance of former president Dr Hassan Syed and the
revelations of financial irregularities discovered by the Auditor
General’s office, the board appointed Deloitte to undertake a further
audit, even though the Auditor General Dan Duguay had already reported
his findings to the police and an FCU investigation was underway.

In its statement on 17 July, the board said that Deloitte had made a
presentation of its findings together with recommendations to the
board.  “While Deloitte’s presentation confirmed that there were
in fact internal controls in place that appear to have been breached,
they have also made recommendations on how those internal controls
could be strengthened. Deloitte’s final report is with the Board,” it
said.

The board also admitted that it had recently met with Duguay in order
for him to present his full findings to all members, something that
the AG had been requesting since the beginning of May. “Both
presentations have been instructive to the Board, and the Board is
responding to their findings with a view to implementing changes in
authority at an administrative level as well as strengthening the
system of internal controls over the financial transactions of the
University,” the statement said.

The board said that it was now meeting frequently to ensure that “all
issues are fully addressed in an efficient and professional manner”,
though it gave no indication of the details of those issues. It did
say, however, that it is working to complete the financial statements
of the University for the year end 30 June 2007 and planning the audit
for the year ended June 30, 2008, with a view to completion this year.

As the Financial Crimes Unit is carrying out an investigation, the
board said it was not in a position to discuss any aspects of the
former President’s transactions, although CNS understands that the
irregularities, include purchases from Tiffany’s jewellery store at
the Ritz, as well as vacations and flights. The full details of the
irregularities and amounts that Hassan allegedly defrauded are still
unknown but it is said to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

When CNS contacted the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) in
wake of reports that Hassan had disappeared again from his last known
location in Canada, the police said it was still too early to look at
issues of extradition. However, if Hassan is required to return to the
Cayman Islands in regards to the enquiry or to face justice, even if
he is still in Canada, Cayman has no extradition agreement with that
nation.

Back in August 2006, Education Minister Alden McLaughlin had said that
Syed had a PhD in Computer Science, an MBA in Marketing and a BSc in
Civil Engineering, and that he was pleased to have “an educational
professional of Dr Syed’s calibre at the helm” of the UCCI. However,
following Syed’s departure, it was discovered that he had never
received a Phd and that he may not have had the work experience he
claimed. After resigning from the UCCI declaring a severe illness, the
revelations regarding the so-called financial irregularities surfaced.
A few weeks later the former President turned up Toronto’s Centennial
College.  Tad Stoner of Cayman Net News then revealed in a report
published on 8 July that Syed had also left that position, citing “an
urgent family matter”.

 

 

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