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Syed sent to jail to await sentence

| 09/03/2017 | 38 Comments

(CNS): Hassan Syed, who was found guilty Thursday of twelve charges relating to the theft of more than half a million dollars from the college coffers when he was the UCCI president, was remanded in custody by the judge who heard his case, despite pleas for his bail to continue until sentencing next month. Syed’s doctor testified that he is in remission from cancer but still suffering from myriad medical problems and the “shock of Northward” could be dangerous to his health.

But as Dr Grant is also the prison physician, the judge said he believed he could receive the tests and treatment he needed from the jail. Justice Phillip St John-Stevens pointed out that Syed had been found guilty of stealing at the very least $500,000, but the crown had argued it could amount to as much as $700,000, making it clear he would be facing a long custodial sentence.

The judge described Syed as an intelligent man who was highly regarded but he was a persuasive, manipulative, dishonest individual who had employed a number of deceitful ways to steal a significant sum. He said Syed had used false documents, even airline tickets, to steal the cash and had fled the jurisdiction when his dishonesty was about to be exposed.

Justice St John-Stevens said even when he was overseas he had directed someone to destroy evidence in the case. He said he was satisfied that Syed would have the wherewithal to secure some means of getting out of the jurisdiction

Prosecutor Toyin Salako offered additional arguments against bail. She pointed out that Syed was now convicted and facing a long sentence with no family ties to the jurisdiction. Although Syed had eventually returned to Cayman without the need for an extradition hearing, he did not come back voluntarily, she said, but in the custody of the RCIPS, after he had at first contested the order for him to return and remained in a Zürich jail for seven months before he agreed to return to face trial.

She also pointed out that he was in Switzerland when he was arrested, which demonstrated that he had significant resources and was not incapable of finding a way to flee, as he had after he realized the authorities were on to his dishonesty at UCCI.

Syed’s local attorney, Amelia Fosuhene, had requested bail until his sentencing hearing, which is expected to be set for April, so he could get medical treatment. She told the judge that Syed had been on bail since he came back to Cayman in May 2014 and had never broken any of the conditions over the almost three years. She noted that the court held sureties, his passports, and he had been wearing an electronic monitor while he was awaiting trial on a 9pm to 8am curfew and was checking in daily at the police station.

Syed has been staying with a prominent local family in South Sound throughout the case and Fosuhene said that while he had no direct family ties to Cayman, he had a significant support network. But she urged the court to let bail continue for a little while longer so that he could get the test and treatment he needed, which he had not kept up with because of the trial. She pointed to the evidence given by the doctor and Syed’s precarious health.

Despite her best efforts, the judge made it clear that, having reflected carefully on all the unique set of circumstances, he had concerns that Syed would not appear for sentencing and remanded him in custody. Syed appeared to accept his fate, putting on a brave face as he was sent down to the court cells.

No date has been set for the sentencing as the court has asked for information to inform the process, which could take several weeks.

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Category: Local News

Comments (38)

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  1. Devon Stoddart says:

    Syed is a real dishonest person. I lectured in the department which he headed, and I decided to leave when he was given the UCCI Presidency. He formed a committee to discuss salary, which I was told to join to represent the Computing Department. After, we have completed several weeks of discussion, he sent (with the Dean, then the registrar) around a blank document, with only the names of the members of the committee and underlined areas to sign. He could have placed anything above ours signatures. I refused to sign, and called me to his office and threatened me. After that, I was closed to leaving, he sent my Head of Department Mr. Perry George with an appraisal form (even though I was leaving) and even that too had blank pages before where I had to sign. Any way I was eager to leave because I did trust this man and I was not in Jamaica, so I signed. However, lessons to be learnt, the Caymans Islands must develop a cadre of professionals to spot these fake “so-called” professionals coming into your country. A PhD who only teaches certificate courses which needs no prerequisite (not even CSEC), in Computer Science field, not even a person with a BSc wants to teach mainly these courses. It a dynamic field, and these persons want challenging, current things to teach. This should have ring a bell. I told a few of my country lecturers this from them, they did not believe.




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  2. Anonymous says:

    The powers that be should have left Angela Martins alone she was doing her job,
    Of course he complained and was not happy when she started to ask questions.Because he knew she was going to find out he was lying about his Doctorate and his qualifications!!!!




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    • anonymous says:

      Not impressed. Just another civil servant who caved. When you are a Chief Officer you have a lot of responsibility and a lot of power — the politicians might not like it, but you have resources you can call on if you see wrong doing and must blow the whistle.

      But most civil servants are looking out for numero uno.




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  3. Anonymous says:

    Where was the Board in all of this? Should they have been looking into the magnitude of the advances? Where they made aware of the changes in the financials of the college? Didn’t the financial statements highlight the growing amounts owed by Syed?




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  4. Jordan says:

    All your comments and trial could have been avoided if you had hired your own Caymanian. Next time seek local for all positions. End of story




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  5. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the RCIP’s financial crimes unit are looking at the people who signed off on all these payments or failed to whistleblow? I know what happen if someone in FS failed their duty…we would be in prison…




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    • anonymous says:

      Unfortunately, at the time Syed was at UCCI the President of the University was also the Chief Financial Officer. And please don’t blame the poor accountant who actually was answerable to the CFO.

      Just to show you what type of person the poor accountant was dealing with — it came out in court that Syed apparently managed to manufacture documentation to make it appear that the Board Chair had approved a $70,000 loan on the pretext that he had a serious medical condition. Then Syed took $60,000 and paid for his girl friend’s student loan — then had the gall to say in court that it was a loan that he planned to pay back so he could use it as he saw fit. (Never paid back as far as I gleaned from the court hearings — he absconded around that time. I wonder why he paid off her student loan — to free her up to run with him?? Just speculation on my part).

      That is the type of person the poor accountant was dealing with.

      He was duping people much bigger than the lowly accountant. He manufactured statistics that made UCCI appear to be amazingly successful compared to the previous years — and the then-Minister of Education (guess who) was over the moon. As I recall, he made statements in the LA boasting of Syed’s leadership.

      How did Syed conjure up the statistics? At least one method was to count subject enrollment as student enrollment — so if one student did five subjects, that became five enrollees. Cute!

      If you were in his ambit at that time, you could not help but fall victim to his charm — he could write the book on charm — from the Governor right down to the last student.

      He was able to get people to trust him. And he had some very powerful people eating out of the palm of his hand.

      That was a very dicey situation for the accountant — who was being fed a line by Syed every time he tried to get the information to do his job.

      This guy was deadly.

      What has never come out is what was his story before he came here — I am sure there is much to tell.

      Either that or that he found we are the most gullible people left on earth and he could exploit our naiveté for all it was worth.

      If I sound angry — yes, I am — and no one should have any sympathy for someone who came here and in two years rose to the pinnacle at UCCI and set about wantonly extracting as much as he could for his own aggrandizement.

      In two years he did all that — it was not as if he had toiled over the years and earned the respect, acclaim and position — and he did it with complete disregard for honesty and integrity. He does not know what those qualities are and no one who worked for him expected that that was going on behind the smiles, birthday cards, kisses every time he saw you on campus.

      A master manipulator — and a lesson for us all. Murder will out — eventually.




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      • Gwendolee Goff says:

        This writer is a 100% correct were they were wrong they should have taken him to Northward from me the day we had to pay to bring him back here as you can here his doctor is still not expecting him to be sent to jail for his action I guess he maybe one of those that has read so many of Foreigners come here and steal from us a get a pat on their shoulders and laugh at us. Why was the Education Minister at the time not call up by the authorizes to answer why he refuse to be interviewed by the police was he hiding something that the public needs to know?




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        • Anonymous says:

          The then Minister is one thing but why was Peter Gough not called as a witness in the first place? He was only ported in towards the end of the trial when the prosecution was forced to.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    Why was he allowed to leave the island after the Board became aware that he had stolen a $70,000.00 salary advance when they already knew he was spending about 10 times his monthly salary? How could they even try to set up a repayment plan to correct this when they knew that it was impossible for him to pay back the unauthorized advance. The Chairman should have called the police immediately, on the spot and had him arrested for stealing, had he done this, they could have saved the country the money that was wasted trying to find him and extradite him back for prosecution. This piece of s–t was given free reign to take whatever amount he wanted, it was like they said,’come right in Mr Sayed, here’s the checkbook, make yourself at home and steal whatever you want’.
    His prison cell should be welded shut just to make sure he doesn’t escape.




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    • anonymous says:

      If you read the court reports, the board chair heard after the fact that he had secured the $70,000 — if I recall it was Syed himself who told him, not sure, and he sat down with him and worked out a repayment plan — that is what the Board chair at the time said in court.

      And I don’t think that the Board chair knew anything about his “spending about 10 times his monthly salary.” Remember all of this came out after he left, after the audit findings came and and even since then.

      It was after he left that the full realization of what was taking place came about.

      And remember that he had told the Board chair that he had a serious medical condition.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    It all makes one wonder about the real merits and academic validity of the UCCI then and now. And they are handing out honorary doctorates to all and sundry.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Not to mention the porn filmed there




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    • anonymous says:

      I am not particularly supportive of these honorary doctorates being handed out so bountifully, but I don’t really think that has any relevance to what Syed was about and the academic validity of UCCI. Let us not tarnish the institution any more than it has been by this sad episode.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes they are two a many in Cayman if the recent award of honorary doctorates is anything to go by.




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  8. Anonymous says:

    #BadHombre.




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  9. Veritas says:

    There needs to be an enquiry into how this man was able to plunder UCCI funds at will over a prolonged period. Those who permitted this to happen need to be held accountable.




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    • anonymous says:

      Not such a “prolonged period.” From what I gleaned, was he not here for about two years?

      When he left the university, rather suddenly and without notice to faculty, faculty heard that he was gravely ill — and were totally shocked and concerned about him. No one had a clue that all of this nefarious activity was going on. And I believe that when things began to unravel it was as shocking to officials who deal with him at the Ministry.

      It came out from an audit.

      And I don’t think that the accountant really realised what the Syed was all about — as the arrangement was that deductions would be made against Syed’s salary to cover his credit card spending. The accountant never knew how much spending was going on — he did not control the card and was not getting statements — the statements were going to Syed.

      I read in the court reports that at one point the statements were being altered — and the auditor had to go directly to the bank to get the statements.

      Hey, we had a smooth operator here — and he has an answer and an excuse for everything.

      Who imagined that someone could have so much gall and cunning? And he was charged with protecting the finances of the university. He was in a position of trust. People just did not expect this.

      It all comes back to proper background checks. No one is going to tell me that this guy had a bonafide record before he came here. There must be a history here that has never been properly investigated.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Should not his very, very lucky girlfriend have reported him, at least after he left? Moral obligation? Or are we so without morals?




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  10. Anonymous says:

    Better had plead guilty n got a few years less 🙂




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  11. Sabotage says:

    Who authorize Syed to get over $20,000 after he departed thats what i want to know? That will never be answered because those incharge refused to answer any questions. What mess this place is in.




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    • anonymous says:

      I may have missed it, but I don’t remember his getting $20,000 after he left. He got $70,000 as a loan before he left — but I don’t remember $20,000 after he left. You might want to check that.




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  12. Anonymous says:

    Another things is that during the period before he was appointed president and while he was on staff as a lecturer he had managed to fool every one into thinking he had gained a PhD. during that time he was traveling, supposedly to the university, working on his dissertation, etc. I even heard one lecturer say that she, along with colleagues, had wasted her time in attending a dissertation presentation meeting to advise him on his dissertation pre-presentation. (Wonder where that came from?)

    The question is — did UCCI help fund his reported dissertation pursuit, to prepare him for the presidency? I have wondered about that. It is not uncommon for that to happen in government.

    In any case, where was that then president’s due diligence to ensure he was actually pursuing his PhD in the time he was taking off, and where was his due diligence in ensuring that he had actually gotten it?

    Obviously none of that had been done.

    I lay that responsibility squarely at the then president’s table, and at the interviewing panel who obviously did not do a stitch of due diligence in checking qualifications.

    Too many of us take on responsibilities and then swan our way through the motions.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Get your facts straight 7:19am. The past president was not involved in the hiring or due diligence process. That lies with the board. Comments like this are damaging especially when its obvious you are making broad assumptions.




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      • anonymous says:

        Sorry, 8:47 — if I had a member of my staff off doing a course, I would ensure that he was actually doing what he said he was doing and that when he achieved his goal — the supposed PhD — that he had actually gotten it.

        That was not the board’s responsibility — he was an ordinary member of faculty at UCCi when all of that was happening and it was the duty of the then president to ensure that his staff were doing what they said they were doing and achieved what they said they had achieved.

        There is nothing to assume here — those are the responsibilities of any supervisor!!! in Govt or out of government.

        I am shocked that you are passing that to the board!!!




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      • anonymous says:

        8:47 am: Suggest you read what 7:19 am posted — as far as the then president was concerned, the comment was about his due diligence about what a member of staff (Syed was a lecturer before he became president) was purportedly doing and purportedly achieved.

        It was the interview panel’s duty to undertaken due diligence on the selection for president.

        Each had their due diligence to perform.




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      • anonymous says:

        It is simple — the then president was as duped and manipulated as everyone else.




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      • anonymous says:

        8:47 am — I think you are the one who needs to get his (or her) facts straight — if the then president had done his job, Syed would not even have made it to the interview panel.

        Here are the facts — the reason Syed was scurrying around to get his PhD in record time is because it was then thought that a PhD was a pre-requisite for the job. (not withstanding that the current president does not have a PhD, that was the the thinking at the time.)

        The said thing is that Syed does have the ability to get his PhD legitimately — he just chose the easy way out — and it was also a matter of time — he had to get it fast so he could nail down the job.




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      • anonymous says:

        not the board, 8:47 — the day to day oversight of the university is the President’s job. The board is a policy making body.




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  13. Anonymous says:

    All of this could have been avoided. The hiring body should have done their diligence thoroughly and checked out Syed’s credentials. By doing so, they would have discovered out that he was nothing more than a fraud. But it seems that the only people that employers do their diligence on are born and bred Caymanians who can’t get off a plane quick enough before they are asked to show evidence of their tertiary qualifications.

    I feel no pity for anyone who directly or indirectly had anything to do with the hiring of this man as UCCI’s president.

    Shame!!!!!!!! Shame!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Shame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! on all of you.




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    • Anonymous says:

      That would be the Board of Governors at the time, who were they again? Oh yeah, “People of Respect”

      Now it seems they have cost this country millions of dollars due to THEIR negligence but none of them are held accountable.

      Must be good to walk around with a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card




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      • frangipani says:

        what this maverick was allowed to do and get away with is pure unadulterated slackness on the part of those who hired him and those to whom he should have been reporting. Where were the checks and balances? My goodness, no one hires a worker of any kind unless the person is well known to them or his /her credentials stack up. A background check should have been carried out and references verified, especially with a credit card in the bargain.




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        • anonymous says:

          frangipani: true — who knows, his original employment process might have been equally slack — but you are right, his direct report was obviously not doing his duty in properly monitoring a faculty after he had come on staff.

          Syed, however, was obviously a super talented manipulator — he had been able to do this at all strata of society — and, unfortunately, Cayman has a long history of being duped because of its strong traditions of trust.

          Syed violated that the trust that he had clearly nurtured among his colleagues and all across government.

          That will surely be a strong factor in his sentencing.




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      • anonymous says:

        7:54 am — not the board — the crew on the interview panel. Unless the board had a reason to investigate, it would not normally question the validity of the report of the interview panel.

        And remember that it was while Syed had been a member of the faculty of UCCI that he applied for and was appointed president. And remember that he joined UCCI with a master’s degree and it was while he was at the university that he supposedly acquired his PhD — and that that involved a number of trips to the supposed university. He had to have been given time off to go to the university, and colleagues were editing and advising on his dissertation and so on.

        So it was common knowledge that he had been supposedly working on his PhD and when he supposedly had his dissertation accepted and was supposedly awarded his PhD that was communicated to faculty. I heard that an email congratulating Syed had been sent to faculty from the then president of the university (from unverified reports).

        Here in Cayman it is clear that it is not true that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Caymanians who have gone away on scholarships to pursue tertiary education have had to present grades and what not to confirm their reports. Authorities don’t take the word of their own — whom they have more information about and much less reason to distrust — while healthy skepticism evades them when it comes to people who they know nothing about.

        This is part of the problem. We see it at work all the time — people that we know before they were born get devalued while those coming in from the outside for status jobs get the red carpet laid out and all sorts of accommodations made for them.

        This disparity in treatment is well documented in studies. I just saw an article on Yahoo.com in which a male boss swaps place with a female employee and what he found shocked him. When he signed his emails to clients by the female subordinate’s name, the reaction was entirely different to when the same email was signed by him in his superior position. And that difference in the levels of hostility and agreeableness was reversed when the swap was done again for the same communication.

        Same difference — perceptions related to the person made all the difference. I see this same principle at the work place all the time — with the additional layers of race, nationality, colour, etc.




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