Lithium company executive seeking federal backing was key figure in Alberta Energy Regulator spending scandal – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – October 21, 2023)

Zeeshan Syed, a former Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) executive who was engulfed in a public sector spending scandal in Alberta only four years ago, welcomed two Liberal cabinet ministers to the Thunder Bay site of his junior mining company’s proposed lithium refinery last week, and is optimistic he can attract taxpayer funding for the venture.

The visit, which was widely publicized by Mr. Syed’s company to attract media and investor attention, saw both François-Philippe Champagne, the Federal Industry Minister, and Patty Hajdu, Indigenous Services Minister, heap praise on his struggling penny stock mining company, Avalon Advanced Materials Inc..

Before joining Toronto-based Avalon, Mr. Syed worked for AER for five years as vice-president of national and international relations, one of its highest-ranking executive positions. In 2019, he was censured by Alberta’s Auditor-General, and the province’s ethics commissioner, for financial mismanagement during his tenure at AER.

The allegations included profligate spending of public-sector funds, secretly setting up a for-profit venture within the public-sector entity and working with AER chief executive Jim Ellis to make sure they both would profit from it handsomely.

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