Messina, request for verification of the rector’s reimbursements (over two million in 4 years). Cuzzocrea: “Money used for scientific research”

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By John

The thrust comes from Paolo Todaro, member of the Academic Senate. And it is sent to the board of auditors, to the general director of the University, to the Minister of Economy and Finance Giancarlo Giorgetti and to the Minister of the University Anna Maria Bernini. The object in the letter is already a whole program: “Request for verification of the millionaire reimbursements, amounting to 2,217,844, made for the benefit of the rector Salvatore Cuzzocrea in the period 2019-2023.

From a careful observation of the data published on the University of Messina portal, with specific regard to transparent administration – writes Todaro – and after having extrapolated some information relating to the reimbursements made in favor of Professor Salvatore Cuzzocrea, Rector of the University of Messina since 18 April 2018 and still in office, scenarios emerge that cause perplexity and concern. In the period 2019-2023 (for this last year the available data stops at the month of July), Professor Cuzzocrea – reiterates Todaro – he received reimbursements from his University amounting to 2,217,844 euros corresponding to 40,324.44 euros per month and equivalent to 1,920.21 euros per day, excluding Saturdays and Sundays”.

Todaro goes into detail: “During the years of his rectorship, the dynamics of reimbursements had a systematic crescendo: from 157,327 euros in 2019 – corresponding to an average of 13,110.58 euros of reimbursements per month – up to the figure of 828,465 in 2022 euro – corresponding to an average of 69,038.75 euros in reimbursements per month. The millionaire reimbursements concern expenses made by Professor Cuzzocrea for a variety of purchases: materials for research and laboratory activities; newspapers and magazines; routine maintenance and repairs of equipment; paper, stationery and printed matter; missions and trips; representation services; association fees and more including “services not otherwise classifiable” which could represent any type of expense. Among these items, the one that absorbs the most significant part of the resources is related to materials for research and laboratory activities which, during the entire period 2019-2023, adds up to total payments equal to 1,544,981 euros, equivalent to 70% of the total reimbursements carried out for the benefit of Professor Cuzzocrea”.

So some clarifications: “In light of systematic reimbursements of such a significant amount disbursed in favor of the person, Prof. Cuzzocrea, who represents the Administration and governs it, exercising the most significant management and management powers, it is evident that some observations are due and some questions are legitimate. For these reasons it is deemed necessary to urge the control bodies to, with the utmost promptness, provide ample clarity on the administrative and accounting regularity of the operations carried out by the Administration, also and above all because they have as recipient/beneficiary the Rector who represents the top management. Given the significant amounts, it would be necessary to verify the fiscal value of all the documentation provided and the actual delivery of the purchased materials through verification on the transport documents. This type of control is even more relevant in the case of foreign suppliers since the invoices presented by the latter can only be on paper. The objective of this type of verification is to exclude any illegitimate payments made in response to a refund request with possible pro-forma invoices and/or in response to any non-deliveries of the purchased products”.

Cuzzocrea: “Money for research”

The reply from the rector Salvatore Cuzzocrea was sharp and entrusted to a few words: “It’s all in order, it’s the usual mud machine. The auditors have already responded and so has the Ministry. These are funds for scientific research. The amount of the reimbursements is linked to the extent of the research: 261 publications in five years, over 20 professors, as many doctoral students and research fellows in the group. All activities verified and reported, reimbursed not with University funds but on behalf of third parties for the research. That is, through private individuals who finance the ‘research activity carried out as a teacher, and not as rector. An activity recognized by Stanford as among the first in the world.’