Criminal proceedings re alleged fraud at TalTech continue despite internal audit

  • 2019-10-17
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Even though the inquiry committee convened to investigate the alleged irregularities at the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance of Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) found no evidence of fraud, criminal proceedings into the matter are to continue nonetheless.

Marek Soomaa, assistant prosecutor at the Office of the Prosecutor General, told BNS that the criminal proceedings launched in relation to the occurrences at the Ragnar Nurkse Department of TalTech will continue regardless of the findings of TalTech's own inquiry committee.

"Evidence is presently being collected and analyzed. The prosecutor's office has acquainted itself with TalTech's own audit; however, as evidence is still being collected, we cannot currently comment on it in greater detail," Soomaa said.

Postimees published on Aug. 22 allegations that fraud has been carried out at TalTech's Ragnar Nurkse department in relation to the reporting of project costs, including those of the OpenGovIntelligence project.  

An inquiry committee convened to look into the irregularities established a violation of rules and regulations of the university but no evidence of fraud.

During a discussion of the committee's final report at the rector's office on Oct. 7, the committee decided to once again subject the whole field of management of projects at the university to a scrutiny and make necessary changes to ensure seamless project management that is consistent with rules.

In addition, the committee decided to make an additional contribution to strengthening of the project management support system at the university. This means additional training and counseling for project managers and members of study groups, as well as preparation of additional instruction materials. It was also decided to take into use comprehensive project management software across the university.

The inquiry committee found that errors were made in reporting of the direct and indirect costs of the project. As a result, an expense item was listed as direct cost which actually should have been listed among indirect costs.

Communication within the Department of Innovation and Governance was insufficient -- the roles of the members of the project team were not recognized with sufficient clarity and there was no common knowledge of the composition and duties of the study group.

The committee also found that the OpenGovIntelligence (OGI) project team did not sufficiently document its activities under the project. In some publications an appropriate reference to the project was missing, and as regards the first project period timesheets signed by part-time workers existed only partially. Regarding the second project period, timesheets concerning most of the workers were left unsigned. 

In the course of one month, the committee examined all the allegations made in the Postimees article, interviewed all the researchers who participated in the OGI project, looked through all materials of evidence, analyzed European Commission rules and regulations and the financial and internal reports submitted by TalTech to the Commission.