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Media: Penkowa framing of student was known by uni

In the latest of several fraud cases related to neuro-scientist Milena Penkowa, she tried to set up her student assistant as the fall guy for her fraud. The University of Copenhagen may have known about this case for quite some time, media write

An attempt to frame her student assistant for fraud had little immediate consequence for Milena Penkowa’s career at the University of Copenhagen.

This has come forward as different media, including our own, attempt to fill in the blanks in the fraud and embezzlement case against neuro-scientist Milena Penkowa.

Milena Penkowa has now accepted a suspended sentence in this particular case. As a result, a previous legal prohibition on naming her and her student assistant Kristian Kolind is now waived.

Warned university

The time line is as follows:

In late 2008, the police question student assistant Kristian Kolind after Penkowa has accused him of being responsible for embezzled funds. But Kolind can document his innocence, and the police believe him.

Kolind sends a letter to University management, making them aware of the false accusations. The university responds to Kolind, saying that the facts are not yet clear in the case.

Public prosecutors inform uni

January 2009, and police press charges against Milena Penkowa for embezzlement, forgery and false accusations.

February 2009, Milena Penkowa is given the prestigious ‘Elite Research’ prize. Late autumn 2009, Milena Penkowa is appointed professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences.

March 2010, the public prosecutor officially informs the University of Copenhagen about the case.

Rector on TV

According to an official at the public prosecutor’s office, the University has only asked for information about the case immediately beforehand.

Yesterday on 7 March, Rector Ralf Hemmingsen states on Danish national TV that »when she was put forward as a candidate for the Elite Research prize, we did not know of this case, or this indictment«.

Rector has not yet answered, however specifically, whether he knew anything about the case beyond the the formal indictment.

Regrets treatment

The University of Copenhagen communication office sent out a press release yesterday 7 March, stating that the university regrets the treatment of the student assistant.

»I regret the course of events that a student has had to go through, which apparently involves Penkowa using his salary information to make false accusations. It is very difficult to protect yourself against this kind of fraud. This is just one court decision in the case. We still have four other inquiries on Penkowa including one which includes police charges,« says Rector Ralf Hemmingsen.

University management maintains in the release that it received information about the charges against Penkowa on 15 March 2010, thereby implying that the university is not responsible for its late reaction to the case.

Will be part of the report

»I don’t believe that we could have acted differently based on the knowledge we had at the time,« says Ralf Hemmingsen.

To our Danish section Universitetsavisen, Vice Director for Communication Jasper Steen Winkel says that the case of embezzlement and fraud will be a part of the investigation by the legal advisers Kammeradvokaten due end of March.

»It will all be there,« he says adding that student assistant Kristian Kolind has been invited to a meeting, Universitetsavisen writes.

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