(CNS): A woman who dated the former president of the University College of the Cayman Islands, on whom he lavished luxurious gifts, told the police that she believed he was a very wealthy man. The former girlfriend of Hassan Syed, who received cash, expensive gifts, including Tiffany jewellery, furniture, travel expenses and even a car, had the impression that he was very rich because he told her he had millions of dollars. But the crown claimed that Syed was using the college credit card and cash from the UCCI accounts to buy the gifts for the woman he wanted to marry.
Before Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran read to the jury a statement that the former girlfriend of the defendant, whom she had met when she was a civil servant, had given to the police during the investigation, the court requested that the anonymity of the witness be preserved.
The statement revealed that Syed had bought his girlfriend thousands of dollars worth of jewellery, had given her cash and even paid off the balance of her student loan. He bought her furniture, appliances, including a new TV; he helped pay for renovations at her house and for repairs to her car, which he eventually replaced with a new one — all paid for from the college funds, the crown claims.
She said that Syed would insist on buying her things constantly, and when she refused to take things from him, he was offended and insisted he wanted to buy her things. The woman described how he bought her expensive jewellery almost on a weekly basis and constantly pressed cash on her if she was travelling or needed things. At one point, she said, he gave her a credit card but she insisted she did not need it and gave it back to him. She said that whenever she tried to pay him back, he would tell her he did not need her money because he was already wealthy.
When they went out together, she said, he would pay for everything and she also revealed that they spent a luxurious weekend away at the Ritz in Montego Bay, where again he paid for everything, including more expensive jewellery.
She said that she met Syed in April 2007 when they were working on the development of the Civil Service College and began dating shortly after; he soon became very committed and wanted to marry her. She said that when they first met, she enjoyed Syed’s company because he was an intelligent and fascinating person.
As time went on, she said, he gave her the impression that he was dealing in stocks and shares and was very wealthy, coming from a family that was also rich. She said he told her he also made money from royalties relating to work he had done in the past, that he had written books, and had been a CEO of a company in Asia and a professor for a long time, having secured his PhD when he was in his early twenties. He claimed to have apartments in London and Toronto and had access to hundreds of thousands of dollars on hand in his accounts. He also told her that he was earning as much as $18,000 per month as the college president.
Although the woman told the police Syed would often give her cash when they went out or shopping together, he would use his credit cards. He told her he had a black American Express card, which she never saw, but he appeared to have several other credit cards that he swapped around, she said.
Just before Syed left Cayman and the issues regarding the theft allegations against him began to come to light, the woman said in her statement that they had broken up. However, she carried on meeting him and she said he complained constantly about the problems he was experiencing with the education ministry and accused people of blocking his plans and ideas for the university.
He told her he was thinking of leaving and claimed that he had been offered several other jobs, including ones with local insurance company, Sagicor, Cayman National Bank and Cable & Wireless. She said they discussed the jobs and he told her he was thinking about taking the C&W job as the firm had offered a salary of around $300,000 per year.
But then he told her he was unwell, that he had blood clots behind his eyes and needed medical treatment. Soon afterwards, he told her he would be leaving the island for the treatment. She said the last time she heard from him was when he was in Toronto in June 2008 when he sent her a text message.
Syed is facing a dozen deception related charges, including securing the president’s position by falsely claiming he had a doctorate, forging documents to approve himself a salary advance before he left, creating false invoices for consultancy work, spending more than $200,000 on the UCCI company credit card and manipulating invoices and documents to secure cash for himself.
Syed has denied all charges and the case continues.