Tallinn University of Technology (Taltech) invested €60,000 on time management software last year, daily Postimees reports, despite its claims yesterday, in an internal audit into alleged EU funding improprieties at the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance (RNI), that the proper recording of timesheets had not been possible or necessary.
According to the Postimees piece, Taltech initiated its own internal audit following first media reports of RNI staff being paid for work which they had not actually engaged in, followed by the prosecutor's office announcing that it was opening a criminal investigation into Taltech's activities, with Taltech rector Jaak Aaviksoo, as well as vice-rector for research Renno Veinthal, saying Monday that missing timesheets were no proof of fraudulent activity, and Aaviksoo dismissing the oversights as more like a minor traffic offence rather than driving under the influence, echoing a line he has publicly taken since the story broke in late August.
The RNI project in the spotlight, the OpenGovIntelligence (OGI) project, is overseen by the same project manager, Professor Robert Krimmer, who utilized software costing €60,000 from Danish developer TimeLog AS in 2017 and for which RNI still pays a monthly license fee of €1,800, according to Postimees, yet Aaviksoo and Taltech still claimed that there were no full timesheets available for the OGI project and that providing these would be too much of a bureaucratic chore.
A screenshot of a timesheet given to Postimees reveals a document for one of those named in the media as having been paid for OGI work while they were engaged in other activities, in this case professor Wolfgang Drechsler, who was reportedly traveling at the time he was claimed to be working on the project.
The screenshot depicts a space for Drechsler's signature and contains hours related to OGI work, counter to Taltech's claims that no such documents existed.
The allegedly misused funds consisted of EU money, with media reports saying a European Commission investigation into the case is likely.
Ragnar Nurkse (1907-1959) was an international economist and policy maker from Estonia.
Editor: Andrew Whyte