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An important element of investigative journalism is honesty.
This project has emerged from the £1.3bn City Deal – which also includes planned match-funding – for the Swansea Bay City region, which is made up of the four local authorities of Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.
The ‘Wellness Village’ scheme at Llanelli has been described by its backers as the “largest ever regeneration project in South West Wales”, and had laudable aims – to improve the health and wellbeing of people across the area, as well as creating 2,000 high-quality jobs and boosting the economy by £467m over 15 years.
But it has been beset by controversy from the start.
Swansea University has combined with Sterling Health Security Holdings to raise a huge amount of money for the project.
Sterling Health is registered in London, and its directors include Franz Hermann Dickmann, as well as the former leader of Carmarthenshire County Council Meryl Gravell.
One of our sources at Swansea University told us: “The suspensions have everything to do with the Wellness Village in Llanelli”.
However it is entirely accurate to state that Swansea University has been engulfed by controversy.
Apart from the ‘Wellness Village’, the university employed Chan at its School of Management, yet we disclosed that this so-called academic had served a jail term in America.
His jail term was followed by three years of supervised release, after he admitted one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of mail fraud.
He was also ordered to pay restitution of $12,596,298.
In 1997 and 1998 Chan and others made false representation to lenders about two companies he was involved in, and more than $20 million was then promised to fund the lease or purchase of computers, furniture as well as related equipment.
Chan, a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), oversaw all the leasing activities of the two companies and was largely responsible for drafting and distributing the false leasing packages and providing lenders with misleading materials, to make them believe the two companies were highly successful businesses.
The fraud only ended when the FBI searched one of the companies offices in August 1998, using a warrant.
But he was employed on a contract at the management school, and he continued to use his past connection with Swansea University long after he left.
Yet information about his employment there has been difficult to uncover.
We lodged a series of questions through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with Swansea University about Chan, but the information was refused on the grounds the request was “vexatious”.
Four of the questions we asked in the FOIA were:
- What was the exact date that Professor Steve Chan of the School of Management registered for his Ph.D at Swansea University?
- What was the exact date that he undertook his viva voce examination for his Ph.D?
- Who were the members of his Ph.D viva committee (including external examiners)?
- Who approved the appointment of the supervisors for his Ph.D?
The issues about Chan as well as the ‘Wellness Village’ project, prompted serious questions about Professors Clement and Davies.
The internal message yesterday in Welsh and English to staff from Andrew Rhodes, Registrar and Chief Operating Officer at Swansea University stated: “The Vice-Chancellor has been suspended while (an) investigation is ongoing, as have the Dean of the School of Management and two other members of staff at the School”.
But even if employing a crook may not be part of the investigation, the judgement of senior officials at Swansea University in hiring Chan can still be questioned.
Tomorrow – more disturbing revelations about another higher education establishment in Wales.
Also on The Eye why the mainstream media in Wales still promote beauty contests long after they were banished from our TV screens.