Syed says he was governor’s office spy

| 21/01/2015 | 0 Comments
Cayman News Service

Hassan Syed

(CNS): The former president of the local university has claimed that between April 2003 and September 2008 he was undertaking “sensitive investigations” on behalf of the governor’s office into corruption among public officials in the Cayman Islands. Hassan Syed states that he also helped broker a deal with the former police commissioner, Stuart Kernohan, and the governor at the time, Stuart Jack, for the top cop to leave Cayman during the Operation Tempura investigation into corruption within the local police service.

The claims are contained in a long and detailed letter from attorneys Ikram Law Associates, based in Rawalpindi in Pakistan where Syed is originally from, which was sent to the local press. Acting for Syed, the firm said it holds confidential documents to support the claims. CNS contacted the governor’s office in connection with the allegations that he was doing undercover secret work for the UK representatives but officials have neither denied nor confirmed the claims, stating that the office cannot comment as a result of Syed’s ongoing legal case.

“We are aware of Mr Syed’s pending trial. We are not able to comment further while the case is sub judice,” a spokesperson for the office stated.

The former head of the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) is currently facing a long list of theft and fraud charges dating from September 2006 to June 2008 in connection with the misuse of his government credit card. He is accused of stealing over a quarter of a million dollars after allegedly spending public money on Tiffany jewellery and lavish weekends away.

Syed has not yet formally denied or admitted guilt in relation to any of the counts and is scheduled to go to trial in March. However, as a result of a catalogue of legal challenges, he presently remains unrepresented in Cayman. James Stenning Associates is currently acting pro bono as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) but the firm is not yet representing him because Syed has neither legal aid nor the means to pay an attorney as his assets are frozen under the proceeds of crime law.

One of the many issues that the letter sent to the media from the law firm raises is that Syed believes his human rights have been undermined since he returned to Cayman after waiving his right to fight extradition proceedings following his arrest in Switzerland last year. Syed is on bail because of a number of serious medical complaints. However, because his assets are frozen he cannot pay for his defence and so far, despite the serious allegations against him and the potential for a significant period in jail if he is convicted, the courts have refused his legal aid application.

Syed told the court recently, and has stated this in the letter again, that he has approached 14 local law firms and none of them will take his case.

In addition to claiming that Syed was investigating corruption in high office for the Cayman governor when first Bruce Dinwiddy and then Stuart Jack held that post, the lawyers say they have confidential paperwork which could be important for his trial. They also state that Syed has contacted UK officials who were based here at the time he was allegedly undertaking this undercover work for the governors, and while not denying this classified and sensitive work, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it could not assist him.

The three page letter alleges a number of human rights abuses, including Syed’s failure to secure representation, that a trial date was set before he was indicted and that he is now being pressed to plead to the charges without the benefit of representation. It also states that evidence he will need to defend himself has been stolen from the home where he is currently residing and that the property has been bugged.

Among the number of claims, Syed has also made serious allegations against a local attorney, who successfully secured an injunction on Friday against the Cayman Reporter, which published the details of those allegations. As a result, CNS is legally prevented from revealing the nature of the accusations but a closed-door hearing regarding the injunction is scheduled before the newly appointed Grand Court judge, Justice Ingrid Mangatal, on Thursday. The attorney seeking to prevent further publication is the chair of the Human Rights Commission, James Austin-Smith, who first represented Syed when he was extradited from Switzerland but came off record in the case in October.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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