Education minister calls Taltech rector to discuss EU funding misuse claims ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Education minister Mailis Reps (Centre).
Education minister Mailis Reps (Centre). Source: ERR

Education minister Mailis Reps (Centre) has called Tallinn University of Technology (Taltech) rector Jaak Aaviksoo for a meeting on Wednesday, according to Baltic News Service.

The meeting follows media reports of misuse of EU funding at Taltech's Ragnar Nurkse Department of Governance and innovation, claims which Aaviksoo has minimized.

"It is with growing concern that I am following the developments that have taken place, and are taking place, surrounding Taltech; despite two press conferences on this topic, the public has yet to get clear answers," Reps said, as reported in daily Postimees.

"These [answers] are necessary, however, in order to restore a peaceful work atmosphere both at TTU and in the whole scientist community," Reps continued, noting that she had invited Aaviksoo to the ministry meeting on Wednesday.

Media reports first appeared in Postimees following the actions of a whistleblower, who had gone to Aaviksoo with concerns about irregularities, primarily surrounding the receiving of monies for work on a specific project by people who had not actually worked on the project.

Since nothing seemed to have been done about the matter since March, the whislteblower, Keegan McBride, a former RNI employee and current PhD student at Taltech, took his story to Postimees.

An interim report by Taltech said that no serious wrongdoing had occurred, and that the irregularities were simply oversights, particularly with regard to worksheets, which Aaviksoo said were missing, and therefore could not have been forged.

Another article by Postimees on Tuesday revealed that Taltech has made use of costly time management software in relation to other projects, and a copy of an unsigned timesheet relating to the project in question, the OpenGovIntelligence (OGI)  project, and one of the people allegedly receiving payment for projects they had not worked on, Professor Wolfgang Drechsler.

Jaak Aaviksoo likened the issues to a minor motoring offence rather than driving under the influence.

The prosecutor's office opened its own criminal investigation into the matter early last week. Aaviksoo has said that he would stand down if a criminal charge was lodged either against him or against Taltech, as a result of the probe, BNS reports.

According to ERR's online Estonian news, the European Commission itself may investigate the matter.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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