The allegations of incorrect calculations against a professor from the University of Neuchâtel and deficiencies in the control system are unfounded. However, the external survey identified some areas for improvement.
“The auditor found no evidence that public funds were spent fraudulently or improperly,” said the University of Neuchâtel (UniNE) on Friday. As part of the investigation carried out by the Neuchâtel company Compas, 27 hearings were carried out, 99 invoices and expense reports were analyzed and 149 documents were collected.
Four areas of analysis were examined as part of the audit. “It is out of the question” for the institution to finance a foreign political party, declared UniNE.
An article by Arcinfo and Mediapart published in early May accused a UniNE professor of having supplied Swiss funds to the European Center for Republican Studies, which is close to the French Socialist Party. The external survey shows – on the contrary – that this cooperation allows Neuchâtel to shine on a European level.
The detailed examination of invoices and expense reports shows that neither the existence of forgeries nor a practice of the professor concerned aimed at their production could be determined, said UniNE. However, according to Gilles Léchot of Compas, there is still a weak point, since the institution’s control services control internal guests during meals, but not the existence of external guests.
The rector of UniNE, Kilian Stoffel, said that the institution would also extend control to external parties for the question of hotel accommodation. The study actually uncovered an error, namely an expense report of 1908.50 francs, in connection with the organization of a summer university in Ascona (TI) in June 2021, in which around 750 francs were wrongly paid for a non-participant.
Since the Swiss National Science Foundation also organized the event, UniNE will send it the report, the rector added.
Investigators are also putting their finger on electronic message exchanges involving counterfeiting, but the entire exchange involves an invoice created at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, not UniNE.
“In all likelihood, it appears to be a second-degree exchange. How else to explain, for example, the suggestion that external guests be Winnie the Pooh or Mr Pierre Lambert, the late Trotskyist leader,” added Gilles Léchot.
No bogus job
At the level of the internal control system, the survey shows its consistency and robustness. “The measures taken by the rectorate in recent years have led to an increase in efficiency in the allocation of resources,” says the institution.
The survey confirms the reality of the scientific work of Associate Professor of History Vincent Peillon. “The suspicion of bogus employment can be refuted”. The Frenchman is not very present on the premises, but the work of the scientific editor does not require physical presence at the university and is not “harmful”, explained Gilles Léchot.
Investigators made it possible to reveal the tense atmosphere that prevailed inside the history institute. Measures have been taken that are suitable for restoring normal operations. A process is currently underway, the rector added.
The investigation report costs around 50,000 francs. It was sent to the supervisory authorities of the university, namely the finance commission of the Grand Council, the cantonal education department, the university council and the cantonal financial control.