A professor at Drexel University has resigned from his position as head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the organization. An internal audit revealed he had misappropriated a total of $189,062 meant to go towards naval technology research amongst other research points. This forced Drexel University to pay for misappropriation of grant money.
The majority of these funds were spent at gentleman’s clubs throughout the Philadelphia area, as well as on multiple purchases on iTunes. Dr. Chika Nwankpa frequented various adult establishments and spent heavily at each during the time span of 2007 to 2017. When the audit was conducted, he was immediately placed on administrative leave from the university. Drexel immediately notified authorities and have agreed to repay the total spending back to the federal government in order to alleviate their civil liability in the case.
This however begs the question of how such a clear fraudulent misappropriation of funds could have gone unnoticed for such a long period of time. Grant funds are usually disbursed to the organizations they are awarded to with a clear and specific purpose in mind as to how the funds will be utilized, and obviously Drexel University had some room to grow in their security measures when distributing the funds. Since the fraud was uncovered, the university has vowed to make changes and implement new security measures that will prevent this from happening in the future.
Although dealing with grant funds is usually pretty honest work, fraud within organizations can become an issue when large sums of money are awarded. This is especially true of larger educational institutions where there is a lot of moving parts and large faculty or staff. Libby Hikind, CEO of GrantWatch the grant listing service, suggests that nonprofits and organizations receiving grant funding make a separate account that is purely for grant funds and that said account is audited rigorously throughout the time of funding in order to prevent situations like the one Drexel encountered.
From what we can tell, it seems as if this case will allow for changes to be made within the Drexel infrastructure as well as lead the way for any other institutions receiving grant money to make appropriate changes where needed to secure their funds from fraud.