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HomeMiscellanyAnalysis: What do Huawei, SNC-Lavalin and David Sidoo have in common?

Analysis: What do Huawei, SNC-Lavalin and David Sidoo have in common?


Bob Mackin

What do the world’s most controversial tech giant, Canada’s most-corrupt company and a former football star charged with paying a premium to send his sons to California universities have in common?

They are all University of British Columbia donors.

China tech giant Huawei donated more than $50,000 to UBC since April 2018, but $6.5 million worth of research projects have yet to begin.

Since 2017, the company has put $7.88 million into UBC, according to figures provided to by the university’s communications and freedom of information offices.

UBC President Santa Ono and Huawei Canada Research President Christian Chua (Huawei)

Yet to start are a $3 million joint lab research program under electrical and computer engineering Prof. Andre Ivanov, $2 million software engineering research program agreement under Asst. Prof. Julia Rubin and $1.5 million data science institute research program under Prof. Raymond Ng.

UBC says the funds from Huawei are in the university’s account, but each project needs approval on a case-by-case basis, as per contracts.

Huawei granted $219,750 in 2019 for 5G-related projects, after its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested last December at the request of the United States, which wants her extradited to face fraud charges in New York. That is small potatoes compared to the $7.38 million sent to UBC last year.

Four 2018 projects, worth $420,450, were under Assoc. Prof. Ivan Beschastnikh, including one for decentralized machine learning on the blockchain. Rubin’s other 2018 project, configuration management for microservice-based applications, received a $65,520 grant from Huawei Sweden. All other UBC projects are listed as Huawei Tech Canada or Huawei Tech.

SNC-Lavalin on the UBC Leading Lights Pillars (Mackin)

UBC says it retains joint ownership of intellectual property rights flowing from research, which will engage 20 undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students.

Huawei Canada vice-president Alykhan Velshi did not respond for comment.

Before she was granted bail last December, Meng’s lawyer David Martin mused in court that she wanted to apply to study for a doctorate at the UBC Sauder School of Business. 

In January, Oxford University indefinitely banned grants and donations from Huawei.

The company has also made four donations — three last year and one this year — totalling $50,500 to the Faculty of Science, including sponsorship of the computer science department’s 50th anniversary, scholarships, research funding and a programming team support fund.

Huawei promoted a three-year, $2.5 million to $3 million, three-year research commitment in an Oct. 13, 2017 news release that included a photograph of UBC president Santa Ono shaking hands with Christian Chua. It included support of “ongoing research initiatives in 5G-related project areas.”

Meanwhile, the university released a spreadsheet via freedom of information showing $628,750 in donations from scandal-ridden SNC-Lavalin since 1985.

Thunderbird Stadium’s field is named for David Sidoo (Mackin)

The biggest of the 45 donations was $100,000 in January 2012 for the SNC-Lavalin Civil Assistant Professor Fund. From 2011 to 2018, the Montreal company gave $200,000 to the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sport Centre.

Others receiving money included the steel bridge design team fund, pipeline integrity institute and civil student activities fund. There is also a $30,000 donation in April 2018 to a health and safety award in memory of Tyler Rudderham, a Maple Ridge Ironworker who died on a job site in August 2017. UBC refuses to release correspondence with SNC-Lavalin about 10 donations, unless $1,863.60 is paid up front. 

UBC also refuses to show how much David Sidoo and his family donated over the years and it is demanding $1,449.90 payment to release correspondence about 15 donations.

Sidoo has pleaded not guilty to fraud and money laundering charges in the United States, where he is accused of paying an imposter $200,000 to write university entrance exams for his sons, who graduated from University of Southern California and University of California Berkeley. wanted to know about all donations from David Sidoo, his wife Manjy and sons Dylan and Jordan, including the dollar amounts and programs or departments that received the donations.

David Sidoo was a star on the UBC Thunderbirds 1982 Vanier Cup winning team and was later an appointee to the board of governors by the BC Liberals, to whom he donated $166,000 from 2005 to 2017.

A 34-line spreadsheet shows Sidoo made 18 donations under his name and three from Sidoo Family Foundation. The other 13 lines are censored for privacy. The visible donations total $77,500 from the Sidoo Family Foundation and $55,000 from Sidoo himself.

Four donations are under the category “football stadium renovations,” but the dollar amounts are censored. The field at Thunderbird Stadium was renamed for Sidoo. In 2015, UBC announced the Sidoo-backed 13th Man Foundation donated $800,000 to build a classroom and meeting space at the stadium.

The family foundation gave $75,000 between 2007 and 2009 to the Millennium Scholarship Breakfast while Sidoo and his wife gave $30,000 from 2015 to 2017 to the Allard School of Law for the Many and David Sidoo Entrance Award.

The names of David, Manjy, Dylan and Jordan Sidoo appear on the same three-sided Leading Lights Pillar as SNC-Lavalin and Affiliated Companies in the donor recognition sculpture park outside the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre at Point Grey.

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