Leiden University professor failed to disclose funding from tax authority
A Leiden University professor has been funded by the tax authority without publicly disclosing, an investigation by Nieuwsuur revealed. The funding could pose a conflict of interest, since the professor's research deals with tax legislation.
Endowed professor Rex Arendsen's chair is financed by Customs, a government agency that used to be part of the tax authority, or Belastingdienst. The overarching Ministry of Finance was involved in establishing the chair, according to the NOS.
However, neither Arendsen nor the university made this information publicly known, as would be expected. Instead, the only public information available showed that Arendsen was funded by the Tax and Customs Museum in Rotterdam. Not only did the tax authority contribute three times as much to the endowed chair as the museum –– it is also a major contributor to the museum as well.
"I think it should be absolutely 100 percent clear how professors are supported and that we know that there is no conflict of interest and no outside influence," said Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf (Science), according to the NOS. "I find the silence and concealment of such constructions unacceptable."
Not properly disclosing funding goes against the code of conduct of the professional association of scientists. But Arendsen insisted that he had met the requirements by mentioning the foundation the tax authority is part of. Meanwhile, Leiden University admitted it should have been more transparent.
"Looking back, the financing from the Tax and Customs Administration should have been mentioned," the university said in a response, according to the NOS.