Impartiality of Hoffmann in dispute?
The Board of Directors knew when they hired the Hoffmann business investigation bureau that the company was a part of Trigion, the firm that provides security personnel to the RUG. That means that Hoffmann is investigating an organisation where its own employees work as security guards. But the Board of Directors says that they do not question the impartiality of the investigation. ‘They are separate businesses, there is no connection between the security services and the investigatory bureau’, according to RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens.
In 2011, the investigatory and advisory divisions of Trigion merged with the Hoffmann bureau. Both organisations have the same director. Following the merger Hoffmann continued to operate under the same name. Trigion has supplied security personnel to the RUG for nearly five years. Ten Trigion employees patrol the university grounds in the evening and respond to any break ins.
The Board of Directors emphasises that the security personnel from Trigion are not a part of the investigation because there are no indications that they were involved in the fraud. But prior to the investigation, the full extent of the swindle was not known. The university does not expect that the security staff is involved in any way. ‘We had a clear agreement beforehand about the impartiality of the investigation’, according to Deekens. ‘That is why we do not see this as a problem.’
A spokesperson for Hoffmann admits that the company is a part of Trigion, but is unwilling to address the question of whether the investigation can maintain its neutrality if its own employees also work at the university. ‘We will not comment on what we are investigating’, according to the spokesperson.
The RUG began the internal investigation into the fraudulent activities on its premises in response to the arrest of the manager of the maintenance department, Hans G., in January of this year. According to RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens, the RUG selected Hoffmann to conduct the investigation in February because they are a renowned business ‘with a good reputation and with whom we have previously worked’.
G. is suspected of money laundering and, according to the Public Prosecution Service, has cost the university hundreds of thousands of euros. The university’s internal investigation aims to get a better picture of the scope and scale of the fraud.