A law lecturer at the University of Groningen (RUG) has been arrested for violating sanctions against Russia, reports university paper the Ukrant. Freek S., who is also a tax lawyer, was director of a company that is alleged to be part of an international smuggling network.
The company, ETW Tekhnologyia BV, was founded in 2017 to import, export, and sell laboratory and electronic goods. ETW bought goods in Europe and shipped them to Russia via Eastern European countries.
After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the company continued to export to Russia. According to S., who spoke extensively in a December report by the news program Nieuwsuur, the exports consisted chiefly of medical supplies.
However, the report also found that electronics were being shipped through Russia to Dubai. These shipments did not reach their intended destination. Freek S. insisted that he was unaware of these irregularities. He said he felt he was being used and stopped working for ETW in June.
“I think I was a useful idiot, and I don’t like admitting that,” S. told Nieuwsuur.
Despite his claims of being unwittingly involved, he now faces charges of being part of an international smuggling network that violates Russia sanctions, as stated by the Public Prosecution Service.
RUG: ‘Not guilty until proven otherwise’
Anja Hulshof, a RUG spokesperson, confirmed that S. has a 0.2 FTE appointment at the university. He has not yet been placed on administrative leave.
“We are waiting to see what the investigation reveals,” Hulshof said. “In the Netherlands, you are not guilty until it has been proven.”
The arrest of Freek S. has sent shockwaves through the academic community, raising questions about the intersection of professional roles and involvement in business activities. As the investigation unfolds, the university remains cautious in taking any immediate action against the accused lecturer.