The forensic audit, following fraud allegations, will have a limited scope
On Sunday, Sept. 16, the Board of Administration (BOA) convened for their second meeting of the year to discuss the ratification of the constitutional committee’s choice of forensic auditor, a letter received from former SFUO president, Hadi Wess, and the announcement of resignation from vice-president equity Caroline Lu.
The meeting was chaired by Anne-Marie Roy, former Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) president, under recommendation by the executive. After Roy’s departure in the middle of executive updates due to personal commitments, Vanessa Dorimain, SFUO executive coordinator, presided over the remainder of the meeting.
After missing the August BOA meeting due to advice from his personal legal counsel, SFUO president, Rizki Rachiq, was present.
The meeting was not live-streamed. According to vice-president internal, Katie Zwierzchowski, the individual who is responsible for live-streaming was not notified of the meeting in time.
Decision on forensic audit
On Saturday, Sept. 15, the SFUO constitutional committee chose PwC as the firm responsible for the internal forensic audit. The audit was called following a police report, submitted by Wess, containing allegations of fraud against Rachiq and Dorimain, as well as references to Axel Gaga, vice-president of operations. The constitutional committee consists of five members including Gaga and is chaired by vice-president social, Faduma Wais.
Representatives from PwC will be present in the SFUO office as of Monday, Sept. 17. The audit will focus on the organizations listed in the police report including any accounts under Testing Restaurants uOttawa, an allegedly “faulty” club, and Savoury Catering, as well as the SFUO constitution and other internal policies including the Clubs Manual.
According to Wais, PwC will be conducting interviews with the individuals “involved in the case.” However, when Faculty of Engineering representative, Hussein Hegazy, asked if the interviews will be mandatory, Wais responded by saying, “it will help a lot … it is up to the firm and that person.” Wais did not specify whether these interviews can be declined.
The motion to accept PwC as the forensic auditor passed with six abstentions.
This forensic audit was requested by the University of Ottawa in August following the media coverage of the allegations. At this time, the university is continuing to withhold transfer payments to the SFUO.
Letter from Wess
During last month’s meeting, a motion passed requiring Wess to pay for the legal fees incurred as a result of consultation with the SFUO’s internal financial firm, Deloitte. Wess was subsequently sent an invoice.
In a letter sent to several but not all BOA members, Wess declined to pay the fees and voiced frustration with how the invoice was delivered. Faculty of Science representative, Priyanka Goel, introduced the letter saying she had received it early Sunday morning. Following some discussion on a response, Wais put forth a motion.
“Be it resolved that the BOA sends a letter to Hadi explaining they expect payment for the invoice sent following the August meeting.”
Wais added that if Wess continues to decline to pay, the SFUO will send the issue along to collections.
Further discussion ensued on how the letter would be signed. An amendment was brought forward by Faculty of Engineering representative, Ben King, that would require each BOA representative to give consent to have their name listed on the letter.
However, Rachiq said this motion would create a precedent for members to disassociate themselves from the board whenever they want. King eventually retracted his motion, requiring it to be voted down, which it successfully was.
Goel proposed another amendment—the letter in response to Wess must include justification for the demand of payment.
The final amendment read, “be it resolved that the BOA respond to Hadi Wess explaining why he was expected to provide payment for the invoice sent prior to the August 12 BOA meeting and be sent to collections should the SFUO not receive payment by the specified date, be it further resolved that justification for the invoice be provided to Hadi Wess included in this response.”
This amendment, along with the initial motion, passed successfully after a roll call vote, called for by Faculty of Social Science representative, Rudolph Damas. Rachiq, King, Goel, Damas, and Faculty of Medicine representative, Alexandra Birk, abstained and Faculty of Engineering representative, Rachel Harrison, voted against.
Resignation of vice-president equity
Dorimain and Rachiq shared the news that they had received an email of resignation from Lu, but could not disclose Lu’s reasons for leaving her position nor when the email was received. SFUO campaigns under the vice-president equity are now the responsibility of the vice-president external, Paige Booth.
Updates from each member of the executive were presented, beginning with Rachiq.
The president’s current work includes finding inexpensive providers for SFUO merchandise, opening a multi-faith space on the south end of campus in collaboration with Board of Governor (BOG) representatives, and meeting with health-care providers to find less expensive prices for the student health plan.
Gaga began his update by reporting that everything went as expected with the U-Passes. The budget is currently being reviewed by the finance committee, and a financial awareness month is being planned for November.
Booth’s current work includes maintaining the student of the month scholarship, and working with BOG members to lobby for increasing the number of counsellors in the University of Ottawa’s Student Academic Success Service’s office.
Wais spoke about 101 Week, and Zwierzchowski about club certification, which should be completed by the end of this week.
Ratification of comptroller general
The BOA is required to ratify the decision made by the hiring committee for a comptroller general. This ratification was originally supposed to be done ex camera, but Gaga forwarded a motion to move in camera. Gaga cited privacy reasons for this decision, and after some discussion the motion successfully passed.
The meeting finished with a motion for an additional question period, which failed on a vote of eleven opposed, nine in favour, and three abstentions.
The next BOA meeting is scheduled for Oct. 14 at 11 a.m. Location is TBD.