17 December 2013


'Justification of Academic Corruption at Russian Universities: A Student Perspective' (Edmond J. Safra Working Papers, No. 30) by Elena Denisova-Schmidt comments that
Academic corruption in Russia is extensively spread; it is not an isolated phenomenon. Rather, academic corruption is tightly embedded into the general corruption in society: in politics, business, and in everyday life. This paper illustrates some common types of cheating and corruption as well as the motives of the involved actors for applying, accepting, ignoring and/or pretending to ignore these activities, focusing on the students’ perspective ....
The current research project illustrates the different cheating techniques that are widely used at Russian universities, as well as the motives of the involved actors for applying, accepting, ignoring and/or pretending to ignore these activities. Using quantitative (questionnaires) as well as qualitative (interviews and focus groups) research tools, this study collects and reviews data in selected regions in Russia. The data set includes the perspectives of the university administration, the professors and the students. Many of the actions performed by these three groups are not illegal per se, but altogether, they weaken the integrity of the universities and undermine public trust in the most important societal institution. This contribution describes the students’ perspective.
Meanwhile the Guardian has reported on another instance of identity crime, this time involving US Environment Protection Agency John Beale who successfully pretended - for over a decade - to be an undercover CIA agent. Beale has pleaded guilty to defrauding Uncle Sam of US$0.9m in salary, expense claims and other benefits, and has agreed to pay US$1.3m restitution.

Beale's fraud reportedly centred on failing to turn up for work – in one instance for a mere 18 months – on the basis that he had an intelligence role at the CIA.

The Guardian states that
He faked malaria, and a rescue mission on behalf of a CIA colleague who was being tortured by the Taliban. He billed the government $57,000 for five trips to California – which he used to see his parents – and for lavish trips to London. But the CIA has no record of Beale ever walking in the door, let alone earning a security clearance, and the climate expert was actually using his absences to go for long rides on his mountain bike or catch up on reading.
Patrick Sullivan, the EPA assistant inspector general who carried out the investigation, told NBC: “I thought: ‘Oh my God, How could this possibly have happened in this agency?” He added: “I’ve worked for the government for 35 years. I’ve never seen a situation like this.”... A spokeswoman also said that the EPA had put additional safeguards in place to protect against fraud and abuse.
“John Beale is a convicted felon who went to great lengths to deceive and defraud the US government over the span of more than a decade,” the spokeswoman said. She added that Beale had begun his deception when George HW Bush was president, and that McCarthy was the first official to challenge his claims.
“Every subsequent senior manager of that office was told that Mr Beale was in fact working for the CIA, a narrative that was not questioned until November 2012,” the spokeswoman said. “After those questions were brought forward by Administrator McCarthy, and once the EPA was not able to confirm any relationship between Mr Beale and the CIA, the Agency promptly referred this matter to our Office of Inspector General.”