Report Finds €50+ Million in Suspicious Payments to Maribor University Professors

By , 23 Sep 2019, 14:42 PM Politics

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STA, 21 September 2019 - Some EUR 50 million in payments to University of Maribor professors through freelance contracts is contentious, an issue auditor Ernst & Young highlighted back in March 2017, according to last evening's report by TV Slovenija.

It was very high payments to university professors and the university and its faculties' deals with certain companies that Ernst & Young found rather suspicious.

According to TV Slovenija, some professors received almost EUR 30 million in various fees.

Another EUR 20 million was paid to university staff who were treated as external staff (outsourcing).

Five million euro went to various suppliers connected with the university.

The auditors warned of a number of possible irregularities, including tempered calls for applications, tax evasion and fictitious payments.

They even urged a criminal investigation in some cases, according to the public broadcaster.

To double check Ernst & Young's findings, then Chancellor Igor Tičar commissioned a forensic audit, but before he could present its findings to the university's board, he had to retire.

"In line with the law, my contract terminated as of 2018, and I've had no information about what is going on ever since," he explained.

The audits were then shelved until they have recently been sent to some e-mail addresses, according to TV Slovenija.

Opposition Democrat (SDS) MP Anže Logar, who chairs the parliamentary Commission for the Oversight of Public Finances, said he had alerted the Education Ministry, Court of Audit and police about the case and "now I'm waiting for their answers".

Education Ministry State Secretary Jernej Štromajer said one should get to the bottom of the case to make sure public universities spend funds transparently.

When Chancellor Zdravko Kačič, who was in charge of finances at the university at the time, commented the allegations of irregularities the last time in June, he disputed Tičar and the auditors' views.

"We've decided to do another ... audit and we've asked the Institute for Business Accounting ... to give its opinion," he said.

Kačič was now unavailable for comment for TV Slovenija, which reported that the case would be discussed by the university's board later this month.

The case is also being processed by the Court of Audit and investigated by law enforcement.

TV Slovenija said the Education Ministry was waiting for a report from the university, which it should get by the end of September, before it took action.

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