TalTech promises report of criminal offence in Nurkse institute scandal

Rector of Tallinn University of Technology Jaak Aaviksoo

PHOTO: Joosep Pank/Postimees

Rector of Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) Jaak Aaviksoo said at a press conference over the financing scandal of the university’s Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance that he plans to take circumstances published in the press to the prosecution.

“The credibility of the university has been called into question. Both the university and the rector are responsible. Now, we need to convince our partners we go about our business honestly,” Aaviksoo said.

The rector added that the university must make sure that researchers who behave ethically do not fall victim to superficial comments and that it is the duty of TalTech to protect its scientists and avoid a witch hunt.

“Journalistic positions and facts have damaged the university’s credibility. That is why, after a discussion in the administration, I believe we should file a report of criminal conduct with the prosecution. Even if we lack specific suggestions,” he said. Aaviksoo said he hopes the prosecutor’s office is better equipped to get to the bottom of things. The rector believes work schedules have been problematic in all universities.

“Perhaps it will be possible for us to admit what’s behind it all – bureaucracy, obligation to do things we cannot do within the framework of the rules. But that is no justification. Dire financial straits cannot justify fraud, not to mention misdemeanors or crimes. That is beyond dispute. I believe we all agree in this,” Aaviksoo said at the press event.

Postimees’ information suggests the prosecution is considering proceedings irrespective of whether TalTech files its report. Authorities are collecting additional information to suggest fraud.

Director of the Ragnar Nurkse Department for Innovation and Governance Erkki Karo neither confirmed nor denied a fraudulent scheme yesterday but promised to cooperate fully with the university’s investigative committee.

He emphasized, however, that the OpenGovIntelligence project in question was successful. The work was completed and approved by the European Commission. Karo also said everyone was paid based on employment contracts: no one got more money than they were entitled to out of the project. The director did not have further comments.