Alleged fraud by RUG manager surprises colleagues
Head of the maintenance department Hans G. is described as one of the captains of the ship. He is responsible for maintenance of the exterior areas of the university’s buildings. His department takes care of jobs such as replacing windows, painting buildings, or repairing heating systems. G. then decides which regional company to hire to carry out the repairs.
According to the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD), it is this position that allowed G. to commit hundreds of thousands euros worth of fraud and caused harm to the RUG, where he has been working for 33 years. He would ask the installation and construction companies to bypass official channels and give him money or do favours for his family in exchange for maintenance contracts with the university.
G. is the main suspect in an investigation into corruption, forgery of documents, and money laundering. Eight suspects have been arrested in all, including his son, Michiel G., who works at ING Nederland, and his daughter-in-law. Together with the manager of one of the installation companies involved, they were remanded in custody for two weeks. Property, bank accounts, a boat, three cars, a trailer, and 11,000 euros in cash have been seized.
His colleagues at the university are baffled by the arrest. They know G. as an involved colleague who was always dedicated to the university. ‘When there was all that sleet and there was a power outage due to the ice on the power lines, he was here at 3 o’clock in the morning taking care of everything.’ They also do not understand how the fraud could happen at the university. ‘We’re all so confused’, one of them says. ‘We have so many audit certificates and inspections. How could something like this slip through the cracks?’
His colleagues say they never saw any of the alleged corruption, which probably took place even before the contracts were drawn up, keeping it out of sight of managers and inspectors. They also never saw him spend money excessively.
‘Hans would go Crete, but we did, too. Hans likes fishing, so he’s got a boat. But it’s not like that’s a huge yacht or anything. Everybody has their hobbies. So what’, says one of them.
One person describes G. as a ‘friendly guy’ who will do anything for his co-workers. Another calls him somewhat hard to figure out and describes his as someone who did not like being contradicted. ‘I never understood how he handled things, or his style of communication. When a different narrative suited him better, he had no trouble changing it.’
G. is able to independently decide which local companies are hired to take care of repairs and replacements. Although there have been plans in place for years to contract out the maintenance jobs through a procedure that will allow different companies to submit offers, they have not been implemented.
Service Management heads Tom de Witt Hamer and Danny von Hebel declined to comment on the matter. The spokesperson for the RUG also refused to say anything due to the ongoing investigation.
However, a response to a news item from the OOG tv website claims the fraud has been going on for much longer. ‘This man ruined my company. In 2011, I told the RUG about all the things this man was getting away with’, someone using the name Hans writes.
It is unclear who wrote the message. ‘He used the mechanics […] for his moonlighting. He used the companies he was friendly with to get materials from Plieger. He would only hire me if I did favours for him. Had I refused, I would have been barred from any work after that. So much is screwed up over there. The entire culture needs a drastic change’, the man writes.
RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens refused to respond to the message. ‘I can’t make any statements regarding this issue. We’re awaiting the results of the FIOD investigation.’ According to a spokesperson for the investigative authority, the investigation is still ongoing. ‘We’re still combing through the records.’