Last week, G. was informed that along with three other employees, he would be out of a job due to his part in a wide scale fraud which has cost the university 1.1 million euros over the last eight years.
G. acknowledges his involvement in the fraud. ‘The way this has gone has just been really terrible on all sides. I am not saying that I am squeaky clean – I have made mistakes. But at least as I see it, the role that is attributed to me is not an actual reflection of the reality.’
Spider in a web
Indeed, the chief maintenance officer is seen by the Public Prosecution (OM) as a proverbial spider in a web. At the end of January, he was yanked out of bed by the Fiscal Information and Intelligence Service (FIOD) and thrown behind bars for three months on suspicion of public sector corruption, money laundering and falsifying documents. Also at that time, seven other suspects were taken into custody, including his son and daughter-in-law.
According to the Public Prosecutor (OM), the maintenance officer asked installation and construction companies to grant him favours or to funnel money to him outside of official channels in exchange of maintenance contracts at the university. A detailed hearing before a judge will occur this autumn, but the RUG is not waiting around for that outcome. Last week, G. was informed that as a result of the investigation report from Hoffmann bureau, he would be fired.
‘I do not plan to appeal the decision. I have so much else on my mind right now that I can’t handle anything more.’
The maintenance officer is not happy with the statements that his colleagues made to the investigators from Hoffmann.
‘The case file has really given me pause. I have worked for the university basically 24/7 since 1968. I thought that my department was rock solid, but now, the staff there sees their chance to get in on the action. It’s really amazing, what you learn about people at times like this. To put it mildly, I feel that I have been treated poorly. It’s painful to read these kinds of remarks’, he says.
Among others, the comments about his travels abroad do not sit well with him. ‘In the 40 years that I have worked for the university, I traveled in my capacity as their employee only two or three times, and that is also stated in the report. I don’t know what would even motivate someone to bring that up at all.’
The conclusions which the university seems to have drawn from the report, namely that it was a small group of people who benefited, are based on proven facts, not allegations, G. says. He is pleased that the university is not relying on ‘rumours and whispers in the corridors.’
Even though G. has accepted his dismissal, the case itself is having an enormous impact on him and his family. ‘I’ve lost around 20 kilos, so that should tell you something about how I’m doing. My family and I are just completely wiped out. All of us are in counseling. The future is bleak’, he says.
‘My health is really suffering, which is due in part to the case. My blood pressure is extremely high and my blood sugar is all over the place. I’m not sleeping well. I’ll survive, though. But as for the future, I really don’t know. The way things are going now, there’s little reason to really get out into the world, I know that much’, G. says.
The maintenance officer is concerned about what the consequences will be for him, but he is more worried about his son’s future. According to the OM, his son and daughter-in-law were on the payroll of one of the fraudulent companies and received their income from the university via a dubious construct. G. insists that their positions were perfectly normal.
‘I turned 65 on Monday, and I’ve lived my life. For me, it’s more or less over. But my son’s life has just begun, and his future is being made impossible. My son has suffered enough. His future is in pieces. I would do anything to help him, but that is going to be difficult’, according to G.