Sask. scientist denies conflict of interest in CO2 case

The scientist at the centre of a CBC News investigation into conflict of interest at the University of Regina is trying to set the record straight.

Businessman Henry Jaffe defends his role, too

The scientist at the centre of a CBC News investigation into conflict of interest at the University of Regina is trying to set the record straight.

Carbon capture expert Malcolm Wilson insists he wasn't in a conflict in connection with two companies working on campus, but he may have made mistakes on some details. 

"Yes, mea culpa," Malcolm Wilson said in an interview Thursday with CBC News. "I didn't do the proverbial dotting of i's and crossing of t's during this process and so I realize that it looks bad."

Government and university officials have said that Wilson was in a conflict of interest because he was running a publicly-funded carbon capture project (IPAC-CO2) but was also on the board of that project's biggest supplier, information technology company Climate Ventures Inc. (CVI).

Some of the discussion has centred around dates — when was Wilson connected to the two companies and was there any overlap?

Resignation letter handed in

When the university put out a press release about IPAC in November 2008, it said Wilson was in charge.

Industry Canada records say Wilson resigned from CVI in April of 2009, but the effective date of the resignation was backdated to August, 2008. Wilson says August, 2008, is when he really quit.

He says he joined Climate Ventures Inc. that month believing it was a not-for-profit venture.

But two days in, on August 29, 2008, he discovered his error, so he personally delivered a handwritten note to the president of the IT company, Henry Jaffe.

"Just handed in a simple resignation and said, you know, "I'm out of here."

Wilson describes himself as "chronologically challenged". Still, he says he's certain he was never in a conflict of interest.

Jaffe company responds

Meanwhile, ClimbIT, another company connected to Henry Jaffe, is defending Jaffe's role in the IPAC affair.

In a news release Thursday, ClimbIT said it was the University of Regina that invited Jaffe to Saskatchewan in 2006 and that he provided services for two years without pay.

The news release, which later disappeared from the ClimbIT website, also said it was the U of R that created Climate Ventures and Jaffe was "invited" to be a founding shareholder.

The release said Climate Ventures did IT work for IPAC without a signed contract, and after doing everything it was asked to do, "on time and on budget", the contract was awarded to another company.

"What could have been a celebration of Saskatchewan's achievements in IT were dampened by the introduction of a new [IPAC] management team which undertook to marginalize the accomplishment," the release said. "Needless to say, the disappointment of the team was profound."

Jaffe released another statement later in the day saying a forensic report by an accounting firm has vindicated him and his company.

"We are all very pleased that the Meyers Norris Penny report has exonerated Climate Ventures (CVI), ClimbIT and myself from any allegations of wrongdoing or overspending by concluding that all work performed for IPAC-CO2 and the University of Regina was performed satisfactorily, at premium prices, due to the high technical risk and complexity of the project," he said in the statement.

IPAC's days numbered?

IPAC-C02 was created to help develop industry standards for the underground storage of carbon dioxide, a much-publicized part of Premier Brad Wall's climate change strategy.

However, earlier this month Wall said IPAC-C02 has completed its work and may soon be wound down.

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