CSU General Coordinator Accused of Misusing Union Credit Card

New Finance Coordinator Appointed

Newly elected Arts and Science councillor Sophie Hough-Martin read out a motion demanding the expenses be charged to Riaz. File photo Brian Lapuz

After connecting the Concordia Student Union’s credit card to his personal Uber account, the CSU has had to foot the bills of General Coordinator Omar Riaz, which total at $1,042 since June 1.

At a council meeting Wednesday night, the finger pointing began when newly elected Arts and Science councillor Sophie Hough-Martin began to read out a lengthy motion demanding that expenses be charged to Riaz and that he be warned against inappropriate use of the CSU credit card.

She and Veronika Rydzewski, the internal affairs coordinator and interim finance coordinator at the time, found the expenses while working together at the union’s finance committee. After going over credit expenses for November, they found it strange that 18 Uber rides totaling $281 were charged to the union’s credit card.

“I think it’s really inappropriate to be using the CSU credit card in a way that students can’t see where their money is going,” said Hough-Martin.

Out of the total, $972 was incurred in rides, and $34 for Uber Eats.

Riaz confirmed that only he and the union’s general manager use the credit card, but claimed only a small portion of the expenses could be attributed to himself.

According to his balance, he only spent $450 through the Uber account. $120 of that was for personal use, he said, while holding up a sheet of credit card expenses to the room.

“I found it a little bit disrespectful that these were sent so quickly to council without allowing me to provide [explanation for] these charges,” he said. “That being said, those that I cannot provide, should be claimed as fraud to the credit card company.”

Even more, he said he only opened the account in mid-August, and so doesn’t understand where the expenses dating before then came from.

Rydzewski said she had asked the rest of the executive team and their general manager about the expenses, and couldn’t pin down the expenses to any other person.

Critiques were made by Hough-Martin saying that Riaz had by-passed the CSU’s cheque reimbursement policy, since payments were made automatically to Uber through the credit card, rather than being paid out of pocket.

“I also do recognize that there are other ways to do it, to spend the money upfront and then be reimbursed. But honestly that just adds more work for myself,” Riaz said, while stressing he often has to wait a long time to get his expenses approved.

Engineering and Computer Science councillor Rim Hmila said more investigation would be necessary before moving forward.

“Before jumping to conclusions, there should be due diligence,” she said.

Riaz suggested that the union cease use of the credit card, with exception for the payment of monthly bills. He also suggested that their policy committee write up a policy on how to use the card before the union starts using it again.

But discussion on the topic ended just before 1:00 a.m. The rest of the discussion is pushed for their next meeting in January.

“This puts in question my integrity, it makes my integrity a matter of public debate,” Riaz said afterwards. “We’re not fixing these mistakes because their done and we don’t want them to be repeated, we’re fixing these mistakes as if were out there to get someone.”

New Finance Coordinator

The CSU’s new finance coordinator, Kamden Biggart, was also voted in last night to replace Rydzewski.

Rydzewski stepped in to replace Soulaymane El Alaoui temporarily after he resigned for personal reasons.