UBC responds to lawsuit, alleges former faculty misused funds for personal gain

UBC alleges that its former associate dean of dentistry, Christopher Zed, "personally and inappropriately enriched himself" while acting as a senior dentist in Haida Gwaii.

In 2001, the university participated in the Haida Dental Project on behalf of the UBC faculty of dentistry. At the time, Haida Gwaii had a shortage of dental service providers, with limited part-time care being provided on a fly-in basis. The project's aim was to solve the shortage by establishing two separate dental clinics. It wound down in 2013, when the clinic's purposes were fulfilled.

Zed was employed by UBC's faculty of dentistry from September 1, 1995 to December 9, 2013.

A little under two years after Zed's time at UBC, in November of 2015, the federal government filed a lawsuit against UBC and UBC's former employee Zed for "fraud and negligence in connection with money Health Canada gave UBC to provide dental services in Skidegate and Old Massett Village."

This allegedly amounted to the misuse of millions of dollars in funds by Zed and the university.

In June, the university filed its response to the claim, stating that they were not unjustly enriched by the government.

"UBC acknowledges that Dr. Zed personally inappropriately enriched himself during the period in which he was involved in the Project," said the university's response to the civil claim. "However, UBC says that Dr. Zed's enrichment was to the loss and detriment of UBC, and not Health Canada."

"[To the extent Zed misused funds] Dr. Zed was acting on his own volition and not as an authorized representative of UBC and this was either known by or should have been known by Health Canada."

UBC's response to the civil suit does not appear to have been previously reported until The Globe and Mail's article last week

"Between the opening of the Clinic Accounts in 2002 and the winding down of the Project in 2013, Dr. Zed breached his fiduciary duties to UBC and incurred inappropriate or excessive expenses and diverted funds generated by the Project to the use and personal benefit of Dr. Zed and others," continues the response.

"Dr. Zed and others have subsequently repaid a portion of the monies, but UBC has suffered loss and damage that could have been averted if the Band had monitored or reported on the existence or misuse of the Clinic Accounts or if the Departmental Representative had fulfilled the Departmental Obligations as enumerated herein."

UBC also had contrary views about the allegations of the use of the money. For one $1.2 million deposit, UBC said that Zed actually deposited money to the clinic accounts, rather than his personal bank account as reported by the federal government. UBC also contradicts the statement that an entire $5.1 million sum was used by Zed for personal benefit, by alleging that the amount actually included "valid expenditures to deliver dentistry services."

Zed has not responded to the federal government's suit, but has filed a response to a lawsuit filed by the Skidgate Indian Band against the federal government, UBC and Zed. Zed denied that the band suffered any loss or damage.

UBC is unable to provide details as to why Zed is no longer a UBC employee due to privacy concerns, and is not conducting interviews about the case.