The Finance Committee learned Friday that former University College of the Cayman Islands President Hassan Syed receive a salary advance recently, apparently without the approval of the institution’s Board of Governors.
Mr. Syed, who resigned from his position after citing medical reasons, is under police investigation with regard to unsubstantiated financial transactions discovered during a routine audit of UCCI’s books by the auditor general’s office.
During earlier proceedings in Finance Committee last week, UCCI Chairman Conor O’Dea was asked by Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush if Mr. Syed had been given any special grants. Mr. O’Dea responded that he had not.
However, during the Finance Committee’s review of appropriations to the auditor general’s office Friday, Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson said he wanted to bring a matter to the committee’s attention.
‘On Monday of this week, when [Mr. O’Dea] came into the committee and gave evidence, there was a specific question in respect of whether the Board of Governors had approved any particular grant to the former president of the UCCI,’ Mr. Jefferson said
‘The chairman answered that no, no grant had been approved by the board of governors of UCCI. That indeed is correct.’
Subsequent to the Finance Committee taking the vote on the UCCI appropriation, Mr. Jefferson had a discussion with Deputy Auditor General Garnet Harrison on the matter.
‘…There was in fact a payment made to the former president and the audit office was continuing to review the matter,’ Mr. Jefferson said.
Mr. Harrison said that to his knowledge the matter of the salary advance was never brought to the Board of Governors.
‘In regards to that… we do believe the chairman had knowledge of that salary advance being paid, but as far as we know, it never did go to the board for approval.’
Mr. Bush asked for clarification as to whether Mr. O’Dea did or did not know about the salary advance.
‘Based on my knowledge, the chairman would have known of a salary advance at some point in time,’ Mr. Harrison said, adding that he wasn’t sure when Mr. O’Dea obtained that knowledge.