RUG fraud ran rampant for decades
In January of this year, eight people were arrested on suspicion of fraud. The main suspect is the head of the maintenance department, Hans G. from Harkstede. This Wednesday, he is scheduled to appear in court in a pro forma hearing. He is seen as the central figure in a large-scale fraud case in which the RUG has been cheated out of hundreds of thousands of euros. G. is suspected of money laundering, forgery of documents, and corruption of public servants.
While the fraud has been going on for more than 40 years, the current investigation by the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigative Service (FIOD) does not go back beyond 2008. The RUG itself hired Hoffman investigation bureau to conduct an internal investigation. Three staff members at the maintenance department and one employee at the financial department have been suspended by the RUG. Connections with three installation companies have also been severed.
‘It’s a structure that has been going on for decades at the RUG. It’s all cronyism. One hand washes the other, and if you refuse to play ball, you get blacklisted for jobs’, a mechanic who worked for the university for more than 40 years says.
University director Sibrand Poppema says he cannot comment due to the ongoing investigations. He previously made it known that he does not want to investigate former employees. ‘I had heard that some former employees might be involved. But should we be going after people from the past? We’re going to let sleeping dogs lie’, he explained.
Hans G. 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.
At least two other RUG employees had their houses renovated and had the RUG pay for it. A third had his bathroom redone to the tune of 20,000 euros, according to the contractor who did the work. These costs were partially charged to the university.