A controversial academic at a scandal-hit university who was named in the Welsh assembly, has been hired as an “advisor” by a leading high-tech firm, The Eye can disclose.
Steve Chan from Swansea university is now on the advisory board of Synerscope which provides computerised imaging, and specialises in access to “dark data” which is never normally analysed.
But the backdrop to the news is alarming.
It comes after The Eye exclusively revealed how a businessman with an identical name was jailed for four years for a huge fraud in America, and the university has failed to answer key questions about him.
Major queries have also been raised about the past of Professor Chan.
In the Assembly the Welsh Government were asked about his appointment at Swansea and his qualifications.
Senior academics have given us disturbing information about Professor Chan’s doctorate.
Allegations have emerged the PhD was awarded in a very short time yet Swansea university has refused to answer central questions about him from The Eye in a Freedom of Information request (FoI).
Four of the questions we asked in the FoI were:
- What was the exact date that Professor Steve Chan of the (university) 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?
Yet officials would not answer our questions saying they were “vexatious”.
Professor Chan’s appointment to Swansea university has come under intense scrutiny although officials insist it was “in line with relevant procedures”.
Key issues about Chan the fraudster have also been raised by The Eye.
Just before 7 am on February 25 our Editor Phil Parry asked officials the following question, which has still to be answered: “Could I please have your reaction by close of business today to the news that a Stephen Chan was sentenced to four years and three months in prison for a multi-million pound fraud in America in 1997 and 1998 and ordered to pay restitution of $12,596,298?
“Is it the same Stephen Chan who was appointed as a professor to your management school by, among others, (the Dean) Marc Clement?”
Stephen Chan the de-frauding businessman was sentenced to his jail term, followed by three years of supervised release, after admitting one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of mail fraud, in a Boston court house.
From January 1997 to August 1998 this Stephen Chan and others, in order to obtain loans, falsely represented to lenders that two companies were multi-million dollar enterprises.
One was called Multinational Systems Corporation (MSC) in Boston, another was Advanced Risc Corporation (ARC) in Marlborough.
In fact these firms were essentially sham enterprises that conducted little business other than to attract lease funding from lenders.
The fraud only ended when the FBI raided one of the company’s offices in August 1998, using a warrant.
But Swansea university has hit the headlines for other reasons too.
The Eye revealed how a major investigation had been launched after a “sexist” and “irreligious” ‘joke’ was allegedly made by senior academics.
A Professor and a Doctor at Swansea university, purportedly remarked before Christmas, that Jesus could not have been born in the city because there are no female virgins.
The university began the inquiry, as they were told people who heard the comment were too frightened.
Yet it seems Synerscope have been undeterred by this growing controversy about Swansea university or their man.
In a Freedom of Information request, the complainant about sexism at Swansea was told: “Everyone at the meeting is too scared to come forward, you must now investigate.”
Officials replied: “The University is currently investigating the allegation and will take appropriate action if required.”
But the university has failed to take appropriate action in the past, and found it hard to shake off its scandal-hit legacy.
We disclosed how the previous regime of the university’s management school – under its then Dean Nigel Piercy – was dogged with controversy.
Professor Piercy’s own son, Niall, was also appointed to the school, along with his wife Nikala Lane.
Professors Nigel and Niall Piercy resigned in the Summer after an astonishing row when union critics were described as “grubby little people”, but Dr Lane remains.
We also revealed how an investigation had been undertaken into the Piercy regime, by the leading barrister and judge, Sir Roderick Evans QC, who was also a senior figure on the university council.
A first report was due to be delivered to the institution’s authorities, the day after a formal dinner was held at Swansea’s Liberty stadium to celebrate the school’s ‘success’.
A Freedom of Information request by us established the cost of the night, before the report’s delivery, was £19,408.28.
We disclosed details of an extraordinary sequence of events, when the students union formally asked for CCTV footage after reports that a senior official had secretly scooped up bundles of the student newspaper ‘The Waterfront’ because another article had been printed which was critical of the school.
More recently came further disturbing news – this time about an academic Swansea employed, Steve Chan.
He claimed he was “Professor of Smarter Cities for a Safer Planet and the Internet of Things as well as Chair of Cyberanalytics and Network/Relationship Science”.
After revelations by The Eye, Chan’s contract was abruptly terminated and the university said they had “no further comment”.
The Welsh Government had been asked by an Assembly Member for South Wales West in the last session, Peter Black, to make a formal statement regarding the appointment of senior staff at the university’s school and the qualifications of Chan.
Mr Black, then a Liberal Democrat AM with the university in his area, asked the education minister Huw Lewis: “Will the (Education) Minister make a statement regarding the appointment of senior staff at Swansea University’s School of Management, following reports that a meeting was held between the Dean of the School, Marc Clements (sic), and University Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Davies about the qualifications of Professor Steve Chan?” .
Perhaps Synerscope are unaware of the present controversy.
The company specialise in “data driven knowledge work” and say they “… have the fastest solution that currently exist(s) to gain insights in all types of data, structured and unstructured as well as Dark Data (data which is stored and never analyzed because of technological and cost restraints)”.
Maybe they should analyse the past of their new advisor.
Tomorrow on The Eye – Swansea university investigation part two and more disturbing information about their rankings.