Fri, Oct 29, 2010 - Page 2 News List

University official sorry over claims of embezzlement

By Flora Wang  /  Staff Reporter

National Cheng Kung University president Michael Lai (賴明詔) yesterday apologized after a number of professors at the university were accused of embezzling research funds over the past six months.

In a letter to faculty and students, Lai said he regretted what had happened, while the senior officials at the school resolved after a meeting to punish the teachers involved in the alleged embezzlement scheme.

The school said that under a deferred prosecution agreement, it would suspend any teacher accused of embezzling funds for a maximum of one semester and suspend those indicted on charges of embezzlement for a minimum of one school year.

A deferred prosecution agreement is a voluntary alternative to adjudication whereby a prosecutor grants amnesty in exchange for a defendant agreeing to fulfill certain requirements.

The school called the meeting after the Tainan Prosecutors’ Office on Thursday last week agreed to defer prosecution of an associate professor surnamed Chou (周), who was accused of embezzling a total of NT$390,000 (US$12,703) in research funds earmarked for business trips.

Chou has been required to donate NT$400,000 to charity.

Prosecutors said Chou had filed fake business trip receipts for reimbursement between April 2008 and September last year.

However, Chou was not the only professor accused of embezzling funds.

In March, a professor surnamed Tsou (鄒) was indicted on charges of fraud and forgery after being accused of embezzling NT$1.1 million from research funds granted by the Ministry of Education and the National Science Council.

Prosecutors said Tsou used the bank accounts of 13 people, including assistants, students and her daughters’ babysitters, and filed applications for reimbursement for salaries allegedly paid to research assistants, temporary staff and students working part-time for her from November 2007 through November last year.

Two other professors were also indicted on similar charges.

Lai said the cases could be the result of a lack of understanding of relevant regulations on the part of some teachers, adding that college deans and department directors should hold meetings as soon as possible to help teachers better understand the regulations.

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