David Sidoo steps down as CEO of Vancouver companies in light of college cheating scandal

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David Sidoo, a prominent Vancouver businessman, has stepped aside from roles as CEO of two separate companies in the city after being charged in connection with a college admissions cheating scandal in the United States.

East West Petroleum announced Thursday Sidoo’s decision to take a leave of absence from his role, which includes acting as company president.

“Mr. Sidoo has decided it would be in the best interests of the Company to take a leave,” read the statement from the oil and gas investment firm.

“The subject matter of the legal proceedings is unrelated to Company activities or business and Mr. Sidoo remains as a director of the company.”

Advantage Lithium Corp., a lithium investor and developer, announced Sidoo’s departure as its CEO in a nearly identical statement around the same time.

Sidoo, who is recognized in B.C. for his philanthropy in addition to his business endeavours, was charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in Boston, Mass., in connection with the nationwide scheme earlier this month. 

The U.S. Justice Department claims Sidoo, 59, paid more than $200,000 to have an alleged imposter flown to Vancouver to write his sons’ SATs for them in 2011 and 2012, to give the teenagers a stronger chance at getting into top American universities.

Sidoo is one of dozens charged in the largest known college admissions scandal in U.S. history, in which federal prosecutors said a California company made around $25 million by charging parents — including Hollywood actresses and other entrepreneurs — to secure spots for their children at elite schools by cheating the admissions process.

The scandal has triggered a $500-billion lawsuit accusing the well-connected parents of buying spots for their children, consequently keeping children of less wealthy parents out.

Sidoo was arrested in San Jose, Calif., on Friday. He is set to appear in federal court in Boston on Friday.

In a statement Wednesday, Sidoo’s legal team said he intends to plead not guilty.

“We urge the media to recognize that Mr. Sidoo is presumed innocent,” the statement read.

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