Former college president Hassan Syed declined to answer questions about his work history in the U.S. during court proceedings Wednesday, saying the information was “classified.”
The questions arose as Syed was quizzed about his resume. Prosecutors allege he falsely claimed to have a doctorate from a Canadian university to get the president’s job and six-figure salary at the University College of the Cayman Islands in 2006.
Syed claimed Wednesday he had not written the disputed resume and had not even seen it until the criminal proceedings against him began.
He said he did not know who had created the document and suggested it contained several inaccuracies, including the contested claim that he held a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Victoria.
He said he had simply submitted a cover letter to apply for the president’s job, at the recommendation of the university college’s former president, Sam Basdeo. He said Mr. Basdeo had indicated that UCCI had his resume on file and that Syed, who was already working as a lecturer at the college, did not need to resubmit it.
Syed, who claims to have a doctorate from an institution in Pakistan, said he had not claimed to have a Ph.D. from the Canadian institution, as alleged. He said he had not seen the resume shown to him by Crown prosecutor Patrick Moran – the document reviewed by the selection panel before Syed was appointed as president.
He agreed with Mr. Moran’s suggestion that much of the information in the resume was accurate, including his personal information, address and some of his education history. However, he disputed some of the colleges listed, as well as the corporate positions.
When asked if he had worked in the U.S. for a company called Everest Broadband, he said, “I can’t talk about my work in the U.S.; that was classified.”
He gave the same answer to questions about his work history with AT&T Wireless in the U.S.
Syed is charged with obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception in connection with allegations that he falsely claimed to have a doctorate to get the UCCI president’s job. He is also facing 11 other charges, including claims he dishonestly used college funds for personal gain.
Facing cross-examination Wednesday from the prosecution, Syed insisted there was an agreed system for the college’s accountant to highlight any personal expenditure made by the president from college funds and deduct it from his salary.
Asked about a US$20,000 UCCI check to Tony’s Toys car dealership, he accepted that he had no authority to use that money to buy a car for his girlfriend.
He said he could not remember or explain why the check was filed as an “advance payment for an auto mechanic workshop.” But he rejected the prosecutor’s suggestion that this was a “big lie” to make the car purchase look like an approved payment for a legitimate college project.
He acknowledged the money had been spent on a car for his girlfriend but said he had paid the money back later when the accountant highlighted the expense as “personal.”
Asked about a CI$5,000 check to Pooley’s Cabinets used to pay toward bathroom furniture for the same woman, he said he could not explain why the check was filed as being for renovations of a bathroom at UCCI.
“I don’t remember writing this note, but I definitely remember that when Mr. Singh told me $5,000 was used for personal use, I paid it back.”
Asked why, if the expenditure was approved through the system he had described, he had not simply recorded the checks as loans to the president, he said he could not remember.
Syed has previously testified, and it is accepted, that the college’s accountant handled numerous bills for him, including rent, utilities and other expenses. The court has heard that a system was in place for these payments to be deducted from his salary.
Walking the defendant through a list of transactions and bank statements, Mr. Moran suggested that once the salary deductions were made, and cash withdrawals, car repayments and wire transfers to family accounted for, Syed would have had very little of his college salary left.
“After those outgoings, you were left with around $1,000 a month of your salary and you were spending an average of $10,000 a month on the UCCI credit cards for personal expenditure,” the prosecutor said.
He suggested to Syed that there was no way for him to pay back the money he was spending on the card on personal items through salary deductions from Mr. Singh, in the system outlined.
Syed acknowledged he would not have been able to repay the expenses through his salary alone but indicated he had other income coming from consultancy work for UCCI during the 20-month period of his presidency.
The trial continued Wednesday afternoon.