Probe into finances

February 25, 2005

Suspect investment deals and financial mismanagement at a Czech university that have cost nearly £1 million are under investigation after a spate of complaints about halls of residence and a faculty building project.

The police probe into the finances of West Bohemia University, Pilsen - established in 1991 through the merger of an institute of technology and college of education - was sparked by allegations of financial impropriety after student protests about poor conditions in halls of residence.

Questions raised in a report by the Czech Supreme Audit Office over the building of an electrical engineering centre at the university that is nearly 40 million koruna (£1 million) over budget are also under investigation, according to the Czech daily newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes.

The West Bohemia faculty building, completed last year after two years, cost 436 million koruna. The report blames the overspend on the university for making costly unauthorised changes, the Czech press agency CTK reported.

Josef Silhan, project manager, said that the devastating floods of summer 2002 were to blame for delays to the work.

Moves by Josef Prusa, West Bohemia's vice-chancellor, to defuse anger over the issues by announcing a tender to replace the dormitory head and registrar - the finance chief in charge of operations and investments - failed to quell the unrest.

Professor Prusa refused to confirm how long the investigation would take, but said: "Until the police investigation of this matter is over, the university was asked not to publish any information. The results of the investigation will be published then."

Cost overruns on building work amounting to about 37 million koruna at West Bohemia and a further 4.8 million koruna at Ostrava University in the east, were criticised by the chief inspecting authority for universities, the NKU, in January.

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