Ex-UCCI president in court for thefts

Hassan Syed released on bail


Hassan Iftikar Syed, former president of University College of the Cayman Islands, appeared in Summary Court on Thursday morning after arriving on the island Wednesday evening from Switzerland. 

Crown Counsel Toyin Salako said Syed faces five counts of theft, three of obtaining a pecuniary advantage and seven of obtaining a money order by deception, dating from September 2006 to June 2008. 

He was released on bail of $450,000, including a security of $50,000, due to his medical condition. The court heard he suffers from a heart condition and erratic blood pressure. The crown did not object to bail because of his medical condition. 

Magistrate Grace Donalds transmitted the charges to Grand Court, where Syed was directed to appear on Friday, June 20. 

The charges against the former UCCI president relate to the findings of an investigation by the Office of the Auditor General. Syed is alleged to have used UCCI credit cards for personal transactions. 

Ms. Salako said Syed told colleagues in 2008 that he was resigning from UCCI to take a job elsewhere. He told another colleague he was ill. He also allegedly asked another colleague to wipe his files from the university server and his laptop. 

When he left Cayman for Jamaica, he was still president of the university. On May 6, 2008, he phoned the university and resigned. On May 9, 2008, a report was made to the Financial Crime Unit that he had used the credit cards for a number of transactions. 

Ms. Salako noted that the defendant had submitted to the university a resume showing that he had a doctorate when, in fact, he did not have one. 

Charges were brought in 2012 in his absence and arrest warrants were circulated internationally. 

The crown in Cayman was subsequently notified that Syed was in Switzerland. 

On March 6, 2014, Ms. Salako continued, she and Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards met with local attorney James Austin-Smith to discuss bail in the event that Syed agreed to return to Cayman and not contest extradition. 

On March 20, 2014, the crown was provided with a letter from Syed’s doctor setting out his medical condition. The earliest matter was an eye problem in July, 2008. In September, 2013, he underwent surgery for a stomach tumor and then chemotherapy. He was being seen by a cardiologist and oncologist and had an acute cardiac disease. 

In April, 2014, the crown said it would be prepared to agree to bail on specific conditions, including a surety in the sum of $400,000. “We have taken this rather extraordinary position because of his medical conditions,” Ms. Salako advised. 

She said word was subsequently received that Syed would no longer contest extradition, but would surrender voluntarily in order to stand trial.  

On May 23, a letter was received describing Syed’s current condition. During his time in custody in Switzerland, he had lost weight and had highly erratic blood pressure. Any acute headache or blackout would require immediate attention; he was being monitored daily for his blood pressure and was on medication for his heart condition; he also has dietary supplements because of his weight loss. 

Ms. Salako said the crown would not object to bail if the magistrate granted it with conditions requested. Mr. Austin-Smith said Ms. Salenko’s detail presentation was in effect a joint application for bail. 

The surety for $400,000 comes from a local woman on the basis of an evaluation of her property. A security of $50,000 comes from Syed’s pension fund which is held locally. 

His two passports – one Canadian and one Pakistani – have already been surrendered to police. 

The defendant is under curfew from 9 p.m. until 8 a.m. at a specified address and must report to the George Town Police Station daily. He must also wear an electronic monitor and present himself anytime police come to his doorstep. 


Hassan Syed is escorted into court by a police officer on Thursday. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT

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