Syed gets bail due to illness

| 29/05/2014

(CNS) Updated: The former president of the UCCI accused of going on a spending spree on a government credit card to the tune of some $200k is back in Cayman after six years as a fugitive. However, when he appeared in court Thursday he was granted bail as a result of serious ill health. Hassan Syed (47) has been charged with five counts of theft, three counts of obtaining a pecuniary advantage and seven counts of obtaining property by deception. He had agreed to return to Cayman without fighting an extradition order after he was arrested last year in Switzerland provided he could get bail to allow him to receive treatment as heis fighting cancer.

Syed's time in custody since his arrest in Europe last November has already taken a serious toll on his recovery for treatment of a tumour in his intestines. Crown counsel did not oppose bail in light of the medical condition when he appeared in court.

“We have taken this extraordinary position of consideration due to his health,” the prosecutor said. The crown also briefed the court on the time the defendant has spent in custody and Syed's poor health in Switzerland, regarding blackouts and a serious loss of weight. In light of the need for regular check-ups, vascular medication, dietary supplements, medication for blackouts and daily monitoring of blood pressure, she agreed to bail under the strictest of conditions.

The crown requested a surety of CI$400,000 and a security of CI$50,000. In addition, Syed’s Canadian and Pakistani passports have been surrendered. He is to sleep at the premises specified in the court order, abide by a curfew, report to the police between 8:30am and 9:30am and wear an electronic monitoring device. Syed’s attorney agreed tothe conditions and Magistrate Grace Donalds ordered bail before transmitting the matter to the Grand Court for 20 June.

Syed’s arrest and subsequent extradition came as the result of several alleged unauthorized transactions on the university’s credit card during his time as president. The highly publicized circumstances surrounding the investigation and charges that were eventually laid against him, included the suspect absconding from the Cayman Islands. He has been a fugitive of law since 2008.

Syed disappeared shortly after claiming to be extremely ill that year and having taken a salary advance to pay for medical expenses. The court heard that he allegedly asked a colleague to wipe certain computer files clean and left for Jamaica. At the time of leaving, he was still employed as the university’s president, though not long afterwards he contacted the university by phone to resign from the post.

However, shortly afterwards the finger of suspicion was pointed at the former university boss, when the Office of the Auditor General examined the university books and turned up a number of ‘financial irregularities’. It was also later discovered that in contrast to the resume Syed had tendered, he did not have a Doctorate Degree.

The former university president was suspected of purchasing Tiffany jewellery and paying for extravagant weekends away on the government credit card, running up bills of around $200,000. After absconding, he reportedly turned up in Canada at the Toronto’s Centennial College a few months later.

Having circulated his details to Interpol, in January the RCIPS revealed that Syed had finally been tracked down and arrested in Switzerland in November last year and was detained in custody there as Cayman began an extradition process.

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