Syed trial focuses on Civil Service College

A government accountant testified in Grand Court on Monday that he processed numerous payments to the University College of the Cayman Islands in connection with the project to set up a civil service college.

Matthew Tibbetts, who was chief financial officer in the Portfolio of the Civil Service, said invoices had been sent to the portfolio by Hassan Syed, then president of UCCI, for work in connection with the project, between 2006 and 2008.

Giving evidence in Syed’s trial, Mr. Tibbetts recalled refunding $127,000 to UCCI in connection with a human resources “product” Mr. Syed had purchased from a company called Lominger as part of the project.

He said Syed had submitted an invoice indicating that he had personally paid for the product on his American Express card.

Despite this, he said the money was paid back to the college because the contract was between the institutions rather than with Syed personally.

He said, “We were making the payment through UCCI and they would reimburse him.”

As chief financial officer, Mr. Tibbetts said, his job was simply to process the payments.

He said the chief officer designate in the department, Mary Rodrigues, would have been responsible for confirming that the services were provided and for authorizing the payments.

Ms. Rodrigues, who gave evidence in the case on Friday, said she had no involvement in the financial aspects of the arrangement between UCCI and the department. She said those were handled by Mr. Tibbetts, who reported directly to the chief officer, who at the time was Peter Gough. Mr. Gough has not been called to give evidence.

“I would not have been involved, seen, approved or reviewed any of these documents,” Ms. Rodrigues said in relation to invoices in connection with the payment to Lominger.

Syed is accused of dishonestly obtaining money transfers worth more than $70,000 from UCCI by falsely representing that he had made payments to Lominger Ltd. in connection with the Civil Service College.

He faces a total of 12 charges in relation to theft or misuse of college funds for personal gain.

The Grand Court trial continues Tuesday.

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