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Published: Thursday, 1/31/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

In universitywide audit, UT fails to scrutinize development agency

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Richard Stansley, left, heads University of Toledo Innovation Enterprises, a nonprofit arm that invests in private businesses. UT President Lloyd Jacobs hired Mr. Stansley to run UTIE after he had spent more than a decade as a UT trustee. Richard Stansley, left, heads University of Toledo Innovation Enterprises, a nonprofit arm that invests in private businesses. UT President Lloyd Jacobs hired Mr. Stansley to run UTIE after he had spent more than a decade as a UT trustee.
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In the four years since the budget-beleaguered University of Toledo funneled $10 million into its nonprofit arm dedicated to investing in private businesses, the school’s leaders have never ordered an independent audit of that agency.

A private auditing firm, Plante Moran, in a universitywide audit dated June 30, 2012, included three paragraphs about University of Toledo Innovation Enterprises, known as UTIE, but it did not track the $7.5 million in investments UTIE made in start-up firms and did not report on multimillion dollar write-offs of UT funds lost in the ventures.

The UT-conducted internal audit of Sept., 29, 2011, confirmed that the university “gifted” $10 million to UTIE for “investment in university spin-offs and commercial activities.” It also said the University of Toledo Foundation in July, 2009, transferred its ownership in various equities such as common and preferred stock of UT spin-offs and related assets to UTIE.

“The aggregate value at the transfer of that asset portfolio was $5.07 million,” the internal audit said. That was not previously disclosed during discussions with UT President Lloyd Jacobs or UT Foundation President Brenda Lee.

Four UT trustees reached Wednesday — S. Amjad Hussain, Joseph H. Zerbey IV, Linda Mansour, and Sharon Speyer — cited a policy that only the chairman would speak to the media and refused to comment on UTIE investments, Executive Chairman Richard Stansley's $1,200-a-day compensation as a contract employee, or about the Ohio Department of Taxation’s liens filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court claiming Mr. Stansley owed $1.1 million in sales tax.

Trustee Chairman William Koester, along with trustees Gary P. Thieman, John Szuch, Juan Jose Perez, Susan Farrell Palmer, and Susan E. Gilmore, could not be reached for comment.

Among the UTIE investments was $3 million to solar-panel maker Xunlight and nearly $1.4 million to a firm named ST&I MWOE Holding Inc., according to a September, 2011, email obtained by The Blade.

A list released last week only showed $2 million for Xunlight and $73,647 for MWOE.

A list of UTIE investments released by UT Wednesday night showed that all investments totaled $7.54 million for fiscal year 2011. It was down to $6.28 million for fiscal 2013 because of write-downs of $1 million for Xunlight and $1.31 million for ST&I MWOE Holding.

Mr. Stansley said the liens filed against him stem from his former business, Integrated Resources, a construction-material company.

“There were projects that were sales-tax exempt,” Mr. Stansley said. “We had closed down so all the information regarding [an] audit were sent to an address we were not at any longer so we never had the chance to dispute it. ... I am confident that we will have some settlement on it.”

Dr. Jacobs addressed the liens issue in a statement.

“I have no questions about Rick Stansley’s business acumen,” Dr. Jacobs said. “I can't speak beyond the role he performs for UT, and at the University of Toledo he has been an excellent leader and advocate for commercialization.”

Since 2011, Mr. Stansley has served as board chairman of Rocket Ventures LLC, a $22.5 million venture-capital fund that was run through the Toledo Regional Growth Partnership.

The two organizations are separate, but they operate under the same roof in UT’s Research and Technology building at 2600 Dorr St. Both UTIE and the University of Toledo Foundation have helped fund Rocket Ventures LLC.

Rocket Ventures LLC, separate from another entity called Rocket Ventures Fund, got $300,001 from UTIE that was put into a certificate of deposit at Huntington Bank.

It is listed as collateral on the document released Wednesday night.

Ms. Speyer, who also sits on the UTIE board, is the northwest Ohio regional president for Huntington Bank.

In an email, Ms. Speyer wrote that “as a trustee, I recuse myself from votes involving Huntington Bank.”

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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