Despite internal audit, criminal fraud investigation continues at TalTech ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Taltech's internal inquiry report into alleged misuse of EU funds at the RNI.
Taltech's internal inquiry report into alleged misuse of EU funds at the RNI. Source: ERR

Although the inquiry committee convened to investigate alleged irregularities at the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance (RND) at Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) found no evidence of fraud, a criminal investigation into the matter is nonetheless to continue.

Marek Soomaa, assistant prosecutor at the Office of the Prosecutor General, told BNS that the criminal investigation launched in connection with the occurrences at the RND will continue regardless of the findings of TalTech's own inquiry committee.

"Evidence is currently being collected and analyzed," Soomaa said. "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."

On Aug. 22, daily Postimees published allegations that fraud had been committed at TalTech's RND in connection with the reporting of project costs, including those of the OpenGovIntelligence project.

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

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

In addition, the committee decided to make an additional contribution to strengthening the university's project management support system. This will include additional training and counseling for project managers and study group members as well as the preparation of additional instruction materials. It was also decided to adopt comprehensive project management software across the university as well.

All allegations examined by committee

Over the course of a month, the committee examined all of the allegations made in the Postimees article, interviewed all of the researchers who participated in the OGI project, examined all evidence, and analyzed European Commission rules and regulations as well as the financial and internal reports submitted to the Commission by TalTech.

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

Communication within the RND was also found to be insufficient — the roles of 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 timesheets signed by part-time employees only partially existed for the first project period. During the second project period, timesheets for most employees were left unsigned.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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