Federal government sues former head of Haida Dental Project

Attorney General alleges Dr. Zed and UBC fraudulently misused millions for personal use

The federal government is suing former Haida Gwaii dentist Dr. Christopher Zed for allegedly mishandling millions of dollars intended for the Haida Dental Project in Skidegate and Old Massett. In a statement of claim filed last week with the BC Supreme Court, of the $10.6 million billed for the program between 2001 and 2013, $2 million was deposited into bank accounts belonging to Dr. Zed, and $3.3 million was over-billed to Health Canada by UBC, for whom Dr. Zed once served as the dentistry associate dean.

UBC, also named in the claim, entered several contracts with the government to provide the program, including the construction and equipping of the two dental clinics in Skidegate and Old Massett.

But in November of 2013, after Health Canada had provided UBC with the funds for the program, the university came forward with concerns over the financial operations of the project, and based on its own investigation believed Canada had been over-billed on numerous occasions.

UBC completed its investigation in May 2014, but waited almost one year before filing its report with Health Canada. Even then, according to the statement of claim, the report was “heavily redacted.”

“Dr. Zed had abused his position of trust at UBC and through complex and deceptive activities transferred public funds from Canada for his personal benefit and hid $5.1 Million of spending from UBC’s conclusive analysis,” the statement reads. “Dr. Zed’s spending behaviour contravened the most basic expectations of an official entrusted to manage the Haida Dental Project.”

The federal government says mishandling of the program not only cost taxpayers’ money, but failed patients by not offering services in a timely manner, including creating long waiting lists for dental care, if at all.

According to the government’s claims of fraudulent activity, only $7.3 million of the $10.6 million billed was actually used for expenses and costs related to the two dental clinics. However, a large portion of that $7.3 million is also under scrutiny, which have yet to be proven in court, including:

$1.6 million transferred to other UBC accounts, including programs under Dr. Zed’s oversight.

$1.1 million in payments under the direction of Dr. Zed to two bank accounts in Skidegate and Old Massett

$2 million in deposits related to the two clinics as patient billings and insurance recoveries

$1.2 million in unexplained deposits by Dr. Zed into his personal bank account

$2 million in credit card payments to non-UBC credit cards and banks, some of which were under Dr. Zed’s name

$221,000 of credit card payments to Dr. Zed’s UBC Amex card

$1 million in other unsupported cheques and withdrawals.