Suspicions of EU fund misuse at Daugavpils University

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The State Police have carried out procedural activities at Daugavpils University, suspecting a possible fraud with the European Union (EU) Social Fund amounting to €600,000, Latvian Radio reported on January 24. The Ministry of Education and Science demands the Daugavpils University Board to provide explanations without delay.

A number of persons, including an official of a high position, are suspected of fraud in relation to the funding of the European Union Social Fund provided to the institution, artificially increasing the costs of the public procurement specification.

The investigation also points to a possible partial transfer of these funds to companies in other countries.

Four persons are detained in criminal proceedings.

An investigation carried out by the Police Office for the Prevention of Economic Crimes in cooperation with the European Public Prosecutor's Office shall take place regarding fraud if it has been committed to a large extent or if it has been carried out by an organized group (Section 177, Paragraph three of the Criminal Law).

Gatis Doniks, a prosecutor of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, said: “Currently, there are grounds for making decisions and identifying persons as suspects in criminal proceedings and the investigation will move forward. I am sure we will also get to charges in this case.”

Fraud from several European Union funds allegedly took place between 2018 and 2022, the prosecutor's office said.

Latvian Radio visited the university on Tuesday. Nothing indicated police activity. Daugavpils University Rector Irēna Kokina said she learned about the investigation from the press:

“For the time being, none of the security bodies has spoken to me, not informed, asked, or said anything. I can't say anything because I'm not aware of this. I just learned from my colleagues that yes, it was as if there were a search. But where and how, no one says. In the public relations department, as far as I can tell, apparently, we don't have access to it now, the phones must have been removed.”

The Rector also pointed out that the university has not recently purchased anything worth €600,000 from EU funds.

Unofficial information available to Latvian Radio shows that the Deputy Rector for Development, Jānis Kudiņš, may be involved.

Kokina said: “The University has embraced many projects and participated in the execution of a number of projects. He went through these projects, yes, my deputy for development, Jānis Kudiņš.”

Kudiņš had previously worked in marketing at Daugavpils University and was a member of the municipal council of Augšdaugava. On Tuesday, neither the Rector nor Latvian Television or Radio contacted him. Other leading officials knew nothing more, Kokina said. On Wednesday, the Rector convened an emergency meeting, during which the representatives of the University Management and Board will discuss the matter.

Kokina pointed out: “Reports are all provided, multiple checks have always been in financial matters. Let us look again at what it is about and what is about the case. It hurts me very much that it undermines my reputation until the facts have been established.”

Meanwhile, Ministry of Education and Science convened a leadership meeting on Tuesday in connection with what happened. This means that there has not been sufficient monitoring on the part of the Daugavpils University Board, said IZM.

The Ministry noted that the duties of the University Board have been specified in the Law on Higher Education - the Board of Higher Education supervises the functioning of internal control and risk management systems, and reviews their compliance and effectiveness.

Therefore, IZM requests the Daugavpils University Board to provide explanations without delay.

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